Bruce W. Smith writes:
Check out this eBay lot. I'm not sure what it is, but I think E-Sylum readers would be interested. Can't imagine a brass die -- too soft. The round part looks to me like it is attached to the brass part. Round part also looks brand new and unused.
From the seller's listing:
This is quite the enigma I've come across. It's a brass token or coin die. I'm assuming a reverse die. It has the same eagle found on US gold coins from the 1800's and the word "Pheonix" on it. The image is backwards, so it comes out right when the coin is struck. The coin is 27mm, the same as a gold $10.00 eagle or a large cent/hard times token.
It was purchased at a flea market in Tennessee and was the only one the seller had. He purchased it from an estate with other numismatic items. In my research, I couldn't find any coins or tokens with this obverse. I have found other coin dies the same size with similar mounting holes. I was told from other dealers that it was most likely used or made for use with gold coins as gold is soft enough as to not damage the die with repeated use.
Several opinions seem to agree that it's from the 19th century, but I just can't find specifics as to its origin or use. It's professionally crafted and deserves to find its way into the hands of someone who can really appreciate the artistry or even use it. It would make a phenomenal die for striking bullion.
All the best numismatic rarities come from flea markets, it seems.
Other than being a design in reverse, it doesn't look like any die I've seen. Is it for embossing an emblem on paper? Ideas, anyone?
To read the eBay complete lot listing, see:
1800's Token or Coin Reverse Mint Die 27mm same as gold eagle or large cent
Wayne Homren, Editor
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