Over the last three weeks I've been obsessively researching and writing more and more about counterfeit CBHs for the next Bad Metal book, this website, and for other numismatic publications and presentations. This has been the culmination of more than 7 years of active research by myself and others. We have been able to sort through shared obverse and reverse dies and include related varieties based on obverse and reverse die punch matches. In so doing, we have assembled more than 30 counterfeit CBH families. Although tedious, that effort has been fairly easy to accomplish. Whereas in contrast, the final step in this documentation process has really only recently begun, and that is studying, describing, and documenting the lettered edge dies. Studying the lettered edge dies allows us to see if singletons, whose device punch details may not immediately be an apparent match to other CBH varieties which may or may not already be part of a documented family. Edge die research is the real tedious and time consuming aspect of reconstructing the history of various counterfeit CBH production operations.
Earlier today I made two exciting connections by studying counterfeit CBH lettered edge die marriages.
The first connection I made was with 1830 Davignon 13-M whose edge has a distinctive 'weird star' (that's the best way I can describe it) between the words DOLLAR and FIFTY. I recalled noticing that 'weird star' on another counterfeit CBH family I had only just looked at a few minutes earlier from the 'Mint Mimicked' family. Given that 1830 13-M was of similar high-quality die work as the other four varieties from this family, I was optimistic there would be a match; also since those four varieties also share a common edge die. It took me just a few seconds to align the edge words and conclude the match. The Mint Mimicked family now has 5 documented varieties.
The second connection occurred about 15 minutes after the first one. As I was getting to the end of my chronological box of singleton counterfeit CBHs I started studying 1835 Davignon 19-S (shown here; unlisted in Davignon and first published on cccbhcc.com). This edge die has a unique 'error' in that the N in CENTS was punched in backwards; it is more common to find a backward 'S' in CENTS. Unfortunately, up until that point I had only been doing a mediocre job of describing some of the more obvious edge lettering diagnostics on some of the families but not on all of them. However, in my head I recalled one family which had two different lettered edge dies with a backward N in CENTS. This was the 'Smushed 8s' family, and this is where I started. This family is known with at least five (5) different lettered edge dies, two of which have a backward N in CENTS, and per my research there are very few lettered edge die matches between the multiple obverse-reverse die marriages. I took out both of my examples of 1831 Davignon 3-C; somewhat interestingly, this variety is known with two different lettered edge die marriages. Again, it did not take me long to find a match, and I was very pleased with this discovery especially because the obverse-reverse die punch diagnostics do not immediately conform to the die punches on the other varieties from this family. Regardless, the Smushed 8s family now has 11 obverse-reverse die marriages tying the Square Tip family and being one variety short of the Ski Nose family.
In conclusion - as myself and others continue to document and describe counterfeit CBH lettered edge dies we will surely continue to add more obverse-reverse die marriages into existing families and probably create new families as well. Thus far, over 75% of the nearly 300 varieties of hand-made die struck counterfeit CBH die marriages belong to a family, and I would not be surprised if this reaches 80% (or more) in the near future with additional research and documentation of lettered edge dies.