Ken Potter's Educational Series ...
A Speared Bison?
What Is It?
2005-D Jefferson 5c Bison Reverse
by Ken Potter
Photos by Ken Potter © Ken Potter 2005
Coin Courtesy of Pamela Ryman-Moir
Macro photograph of one of the coins from the discovery hoard
Here we see a close up of the die dent (or gouge) that created the "Speared Bison" appearance
Just what is the "spear?" The ledge-like appearance on the left side and the shallow, more tapered ridge on the right, along with its width -- rule it out as being a die scratch. While die scratches are related to gouges, the die scratch is much thinner. The fact that many (if not most) die gouges have a tendency of skipping over the low points of a die (high points on a coin) suggests it is most probably not a die gouge.
In this extreme close up we see that the texture of the "field" on the top of the aberration is virtually undisturbed and matches the texture of surrounding field. A did dent may push metal down without significantly altering the surface of the flat area on top. Most die gouges alter the field texture in some way, since instead of being pushed down into the metal and denting it, they are scraped across and down, virtually "cutting" their way into the die. Most gouges, under microscopic examination, will show a surface texture made up of a series of tightly spaced, parallel scratches from cutting and chasing metal forward. Nonetheless, constant use of the die and normal wear patterns on the die could mask the true nature of the defect and the die gouge can not be eliminated from the equation completely.
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