The 1913 halfpennies

Mint mark

John Dean1 described four varieties of the 1913 halfpenny but one of those was just a die crack with the other three differing in the width of the date. Robert Clarke2 listed a "wide date" variety although his measurement of 6mm for the width is rather short of the mark. My own investigations show three varieties differing in the width of the date and the orientation of the digits suggesting multiple master tools for 1913.



Date variations on the 1913 halfpennies

Normal, narrow date spanning 15 rim denticles

9 leans right, 1 and 3 further apart but same overall width as previous variety.

Wider date spans 16 rim denticles.

The illustrations here are at twice the magnification of the main image and clearly show the differences between the three date varieties.

The differences in position and orientation of the date digits suggest that something rather unusual happened in 1913. To strike over two million coins, at least 10 and perhaps as many as 40 working dies would have been needed, with the most likely number being in the range 20 to 25. Clearly the date was not hand-stamped onto each working die for if that had been done, no two working dies would have been exactly alike and we would observe a much greater range of varieties. Therefore the working dies must have been punched from fully-dated derivative master tools and the fact that we can see three different date configurations means there must have been at least three such separately-prepared dies. This raises the question of why three or more tools were prepared when one master die would have been sufficient, as it was in other years (1911, 1912, 1914, 1915 and so on). If anyone can offer an explanation then I'd be very interested.

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Prepared: 31st December 2000 (final day of the 20th century)
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