In the production of coins, clashed dies occur when the two dies of the minting press strike each other without a planchet between them imparting part of the obverse image to the reverse die and vice versa. Once a die inherits clashed details of the opposing die, these details are then impressed onto the following coin planchets.
Along with coins exhibiting clashed details from a single clashed die occurrence, coins have been found with multiple clashes caused by numerous planchet mis-feeds. Often these coins have die rotations that expose clashed details and letters out of their normal position.
Although some collectors in the past considered clash marks to be "common" on Morgan Dollars, coins now found bearing clashed letter transfers such as the famous full and partial clashed "E" under the eagle's tail feathers, letters clashed from "In God We Trust", designer's initial "M", clashed mint-marks, and other details are regarded as "highly collectible" by many Clashed Die Variety and error coin enthusiasts.
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Why is this? It's quite simple really...
Many Morgan Dollars varieties are scarce to begin with. Of these already scarce coins, only a small fraction of them may exhibit clashed letter details before the dies were later corrected/repolished or the coin's details were worn away from circulation. This makes those surviving clashed coins extremely rare relative to their non clashed brethren and puts their value in an "elite" class of their own.
In fact, a whole collectible "Super CD" (Clashed Die) series of Morgan Dollars is being aggressively sought after by VAM enthusiasts world-wide and rapidly being "cherry-picked" by knowledgeable collectors and coin dealers.
A new book titled ELITE CLASHED MORGANS DOLLARS published by VAM expert Mark Kimpton, is available that describes and illustrates the TOP-25 Super CDs including those found in the Society of Silver Dollar Collector's (SSDC)TOP-100 and HOT-50 coins. This book speaks volumes and is a must have for any VAM enthusiast.
Some of these coins can be viewed here: Elite Clashed Morgan Dollars.
As a complement to collectors of this series, the illustrations provided below show the obverse and reverse of a Morgan Dollar superimposed to help enthusiasts better visualize potential clashing points on Morgan Dollars.
The "tool" version of these illustrations is composed of two separate laser engraved 4" Plexiglas discs that rotate in relation to each other. Emulating a clashed detail on a viewed coin as a reference, the user can both measure the degree of rotation for that clashed die event as well as search for other potential "out of normal alignment" clashed letters and details. As you can see on the perimeter of the tool, each full denticle space equals 2.4 degrees of die rotation. This degree wheel feature is also useful to approximate degrees of rotation on coins having been struck with rotated dies without clashing as well.
Generally, the most prominent clash found is the top of the eagle's wing clashed under Liberty's chin/neck. Emulating the same position on the tool as found on the viewed coin is a good starting point to find other potential clashed letter details. As not all Clashed Die Variety Morgan Dollars exhibit the clashed wing, referencing other die clashes besides the eagle's wing can be helpful searching for other details as well.
Using the 7.2 degree rotation example below, users can readily visualize and understand clashed detail movements further from their normal (0 degree) minted position. Details now more evident are clashings such as the partially exposed letter "G" at Liberty's neck, travel of the Designer's initial "M", migration of the "O" mint-mark from being "hidden" by the the wheat leaves, and other exposure of letters and details that can be searched for on a viewed coin.
Die Clash Tool images courtesy of Terry Forfa
Morgan and Peace Dollar clash overlays at various rotations
+5 Degrees Rotation
-5 Degrees Rotation
+5 Degrees Rotation
-5 Degrees Rotation
Daniel Carr Restrikes
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