What is a “center dot” (Obverse) and where is it?
I am trying to attribute this 1838 large cent and I am stuck on the question of what is a “center dot” and where is it? The Noyes book I am using does not define the term (as far as I can find) and the illustrations for N-12 and N-15 do not appear to show the location of the dot(s)…only that the location appears to be somewhere in the vicinity between stars 4 and 5. It appears that a center dot is not necessarily in the center of the coin. I have found no images online of N-12 or N-15 where the location of the dot(s) is clear. I have found a few 1838 images where there is a dot in one place or another in the general area of stars 4 and 5.
Can anyone tell me where, exactly these dots are supposed to be for 1838 OBVERSE 10?
Below is a photo of my 1838 with dots (indicated by arrows). I am suspecting that they are in the wrong place to be an OBVERSE 10.
Also, I have questions on REVERSE J. The description indicates a broken right upright to the N in CENT. On my coin there appears to be a dent – I am thinking it may not be enough to call it a break. What about that? Similar question for the left arm of T in CENT?
It appears to me that on my coin, AME is above RI which is high above CA. This means other possibilities (in addition to N-12 or N-15) for attribution are:
N-3: On my coin there is a faint dot (too faint?) above the center dot (a real center dot by my way of thinking) on the reverse, which would suggest this coin is N-3. Is it? There also appear to be blurred denticles under the date (are they blurred enough to qualify?).
N-6: My coin does not appear to have a broken E (Obverse) (does it?) – so it would not be N-6.
N-8: same comment as N-6, so it would not be N-8.
N-11, N-13: I think, on my coin, the top of E is not above R (obverse) – so my coin would not be N-11, N-13.
I am about to conclude that my coin is either N-3 or N-15, but I need a little more help on some of these questions to decide.
My apologies for such a long post and so many questions. Thanks in advance for any help.
The center dot of the obverse is just as the reverse, at the center of the coin. It's usually found near the front of the ear, on or around the Tragus. From what I've seen obverse center dots are smaller than a reverse center dot, and depending on the wear of the coin, may not show up well or at all.
I believe your coin is an N3. While the amount of wear makes the dots harder to see, the dentil smearing below the date is a giveaway.
For reference you should take a look at the 38 N3's from the Dan Holmes Auction at the Goldberg's website under in their archive section. The images are large enough to easily see the center dots.
Thanks - looking again at the image in the book, I can see it (them) - very faint. My senility is really catching up with me...I am thinking I can really learn lots from these forums - if everyone does not loose patience with me first!
I really appreciate all the help.
Center dots are put there by the engraver as a means to use a compass to rule out the positions of peripheral letters, stars, etc. He actually scores a line into the die and uses it for placement purposes. Ideally, then, the finished die is burnished to remove the lines, but sometimes traces are left behind. There are several half cent varieties with such traces. I assume there are even more large cent varieties with them.
Thanks for your responses to such a stupid question!! I could not get past the book illustration with it's arrow pointing to a location between the stars...couldn't understand why a center dot was not in the center! Here is the stupid part - it never occurred to me to look in the center of the illustration!
Thanks again for your patience with this old man!
No such thing as a stupid question! A question not questioned is not good! Ask the questions, as we can learn from those more experienced. Enjoy collecting the coppers!
Thanks, Mike, and everyone - for your encouragement and support!