February 14, 2009

The 1884 Alfonso VII 10 Centavos Mated Pair Capped Dies

Error coins from the Spanish period are hard to come by and most of those that survived times are not in better condition. One collector explained to me that after he discovered a hoard of Spanish-Philippine coins, he noticed that there were varieties of 1880 Fifty Centavos of the Alfonso VII reign. He uncovered a specimen which has a different design on the reverse, particularly the crown’s pearls and the columns on its sides. “At the same time, those were the first time we saw varieties such as double dates like 1885 over 3, 1880 over 1, and errors such as die rotation is some denomination particularly the 50 and 20 centavos.” He added.

In the past, several 1880 Fifty Centavos Pattern have surfaced in the market and were even sold at online auctions such as Ebay. The coin which is struck in brass and has a plain edge bears a slightly different design compared to the regular 1880 Fifty Centavos coin. The coin has a mintage of 127, 050 and belongs to the list of most sought after coin in the field of Philippine numismatic however, only a few number of collectors are aware of the existence of the pattern until recently through the help of the Internet. Pieces were sold at lesser value compared the regular struck coin because most collectors were doubtful of the coin's origin due to the coin's obvious inconsistency with the regular struck coin.

One considerable factor that have affected the suspicion of collectors with the existence of Alfonso VII pattern were the sudden introduction of counterfeits which have mysteriously appeared that same period.

Of all the set of coins from the Alfonso VII reign, the 1884 is unanimously considered as the rarest among the sets, from the smallest 10 centavos to the still unconfirmed 4-peso gold. Unlike the coinage from Isabel II, there were no 1-peso and 2-peso denomination minted for the series and the coins were fewer and tougher to complete due to the events that had affected not only the Philippines as a colony of Spain, but Spain itself under a crisis of its own.

The sophisticated errors yet documented by some collectors were specie of rotated dies, defective planchet, die-cracks and over dates. However complicated errors such as off-centers, double denominations, and others have not surfaced until today which reflect how strict the Mint's employees when it comes to the immediate destruction of error coins.

Still, among the types of errors, the mated pair die cap where the obverse and reverse of a coin are capped and mated is considered as one of the rarest impossibilities in the world of coin errors. However, recently a rare error from the Alfonso VII series was discovered.

The coin, an 1884 Alfonso VII 10 centavos is considered to be among one of the rarest Philippine coins. Seeing an error such as mated pair capped dies happening in a coin as rare as the 1884 Alfonso VII 10 centavos is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for collectors of Philippine numismatic materials.

A die cap is caused when a struck coin sticks to the upper hammer die. Once the coin is stuck to the die face, the reverse of the struck coin becomes the new die face. The coin's weight just under 2 grams and an edge thinner than a human hair is a product of two capped dies from the 10 centavos which is obviously indicated by the overlap in the coin's obverse and reverse and the absence of the planchet's edge.

The coin's obverse and reverse seem to be shaped like of a nimble which is manifested by the slightly bulging and stretched legends. The supposed to be flat edge of the coin was instead comparable to a knife's edge due to nimble shaped obverse and reverse.

While the coin's mintage of 10, 045 is enough to declare it as among the rarest. The fact that no similar error have been reported with any Philippine coins make this coin as one of its kind in the rarest coin of Philippine numismatic.

Amazingly, despite the torture of time and human handling, this very small coin survived to tell its story.

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