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July was a Banner Month for Counterfeit CBHs

*This is a long blog post, but worth the read.


Months like this don’t come around much anymore – for various reasons. But July was exceptional across the spectrum of counterfeit CBH research and documentation. We had a new addition to two existing families, a new family was created, and 2 new counterfeit hand-made, die struck counterfeit CBH varieties were documented for the first time.


1 of 2 New Family Additions


Since May 2021, when I acquired and first documented this unlisted 1832 counterfeit CBH variety (1832 Z1-DW), this piece has essentially been sitting in my box of ‘singletons’ without much research or fanfare. Of course, I studied the piece in the days after I got it, but its condition limited my ability to effectively confirm whether it was associated with any other variety. It was, in essence, another high-quality 1832 variety without any confirmed association with another variety, and there are still many high-quality 1832’s lingering in the same category.


That all changed when I recently renewed my effort to document, describe, and attempt to attribute different lettered edge die marriages in the same way we document obverse and reverse die marriages. Finding unique characteristics within the edge lettering that can be adequately described is about as tough as you can probably image. But every once in a while, a unique-enough characteristic stands out. Easy characteristics include backwards letters like S, N or L, while in other cases the lettering was much higher quality and the only effective way to analyze differences is simply to compare letter and word spacing between 100+ varieties to differentiate dies and die marriages. 1832 Z1-DW was a bit of luck as the ‘C’ in CENTS looked almost like an ‘O’ and I remembered that characteristic on the edge of one other variety, and that was 1818 Davignon 2-B. A quick comparison of the letter and word alignment and associated characteristics confirmed the letter edge die match. But that wasn’t all…


Previously, I had to make the decision that the obverse of this 1832 Z1-DW was unique. It’s surface condition made it very difficult to match with any of the other known 1832-obverse dies. So, 2 years ago after getting this piece I described the obverse die the best I could and went on with my life. However, with the confirmation that this variety shared an edge die with a Stumpy Lower Arrow family variety I had to research this family further, and there is an 1820 D2-B and an 1832 D23-X that share a reverse with 1818 D2-B. Obviously, the 1832 obverse 23 die stood out as a potential match with 1832 Z1-DW. I did the best comparison and computer overlay work that I could and there was a match! What to me were previously 2 different obverse dies was changed to 1 common obverse die, and this saved myself a potential future error and correction in the forthcoming Bad Metal Silver. 50c to S$1 book (final title pending). So, this once 3-variety family now grows to 4 varieties and I’m happy to see this!




2 of 2 New Family Additions


The second new addition to a counterfeit CBH family is also associated with one of the 2 new counterfeit CBH varieties reported this month (and discussed below). This new variety is known as 1833 D39-D, or is attributed as Z21-ET in my forthcoming Bad Metal book. This variety combines the obverse of 1833 39-MM with the reverse of 1833 4-D, thus creating a transition variety marrying the two previously documented varieties. These varieties are part of the Dotted Feather family which now grew from 2 to 3 varieties. This new variety used the same lettered edge die as the other two varieties in the family, and it is notable for having a Backward N in CENTS; 4 other documented lettered edge dies have a backward N in CENTS.



New Family Created


As of this weekend I have documented 80 different lettered edge die marriages from probably 150+ hand-made, die struck counterfeit CBH varieties; studying transfer die counterfeits is still in the works. This is a project I’ve been working on-and-off on for a few years, and some truly exceptional discoveries have been made from this research that are challenging the existing definition of what a ‘counterfeit family’ is. Nevertheless, I still had a few singleton varieties whose lettered edges had not yet been closely studied, described, and compared against my reference collection.


Similar to what I described in the 1 of 2 New Family Additions section, above, every once in a while, there is a unique-enough characteristic within some of the edge lettering that I could reference back through my notes to see if another lettered edge die has a similar (or the same) characteristic making it worth individually comparing…but I still go through my entire reference collection to double-check just in case and for completeness. One of the singleton varieties I pulled out is a variety I first documented in April 2023, 1833 Z40-IF. This is another variety of high-quality die workmanship while also existing as a lower-grade piece making it tougher than I’d like to study. But I feel I got lucky, the edge lettering on this piece was quite sharp, and complete enough to fully study and compare against other varieties. What stood out on this edge was the letters in OR being somewhat widely spaced, AL in HALF were also slightly wide and it has a 6-pointed star after DOLLAR (most stars documented have just 5 points), but otherwise the lettering, spacing and font were all fairly high-quality. So, I started the exhaustive, roughly 2-hour-long process to compare this lettered edge against many of the other lettered edge varieties from my reference collection; I’ve separated lettered-reeded edge varieties from just lettered-edge varieties (without reeding between words) to make this comparison slightly easier.


I was nearly done with my analysis, having searched more than 65 lettered edge varieties with my eyes starting to get tired, before…Eureka! I found a match! And frankly this was a bit to my surprise as I was losing hope. So, what variety did this 1833 Z40-IF match with? 1832 Davignon ‘2-B’…and that die marriage attribution has been a problem piece in both of Davignon’s First and Second editions. In the Second edition, the same variety was shown for both 2-B and 3-B. And in the First edition, both varieties apparently share the same reverse, but upon close inspection this is not the case. Also, in the First and Second editions there is an 1832 3-C which apparently shares an obverse with 3-B but also upon close inspection this is inaccurate, and the 3 varieties are not currently related from a shared obverse, reverse or edge die…but maybe one day that will change. So, this is why 1832 Davignon ‘2-B’ is being changed, necessarily, to 1832 Z12-DS in my forthcoming book to avoid this supposed shared obverse and reverse die confusion.


Ok, so back to the new Family. 1832 Z12-DS and 1833 Z40-IF are primarily associated by a common lettered edge die, while the overall die work between both varieties is still pretty great. I believe both varieties are struck on German silver planchets, but 1833 Z40-IF still needs to be verified.


This is the 34th counterfeit CBH family thus confirmed; one of those families is composed of just transfer dies. This is one of six families known by just 2 varieties, and hopefully additional research will grow these family sizes over time.




2 New Varieties


As previously stated, two new hand-made, die struck counterfeit CBH varieties were documented in July, including the aforementioned 1833 Z21-ET from the Dotted Feather family. The second new variety (now shown yet) is in a bit rougher shape, with the last digit still uncertain but it starts with 183x. The die work is decent. This variety still needs to be studied, and it might be confirmed to be the 5th documented variety from the Puckered Lips family.



Happy Hunting,

Winston


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