72-S Trail Die Proof & Business Strike

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72-S Trail Die Proof & Business Strike

Post by BrianVaile »

I first ran into Trail Dies at a booth that BJ Neff had at a FUN Show in Orlando years ago. I was more of an error and variety guy, so was curious about them. Most or the research on them seemed to be in Lincolns and Jeffersons.

"Trails" are ridges are created during polishing of the die by a rotary tool.  A soft buff or bristles penetrate into the die’s recesses, gather in the corners of those devices, and then erode a gouge into the die as they exit the recesses into the higher relief of the field. 

Being an Ike research guy, I knew that a LOT of polishing with rotary tools were done on Ikes, especially to keep the proof dies looking good enough to justify the premium price for the Brown Ikes. Yet, I never saw any with "Trail Dies"......Until....I found a 72-S Blue Ike that had a bunch of "Trails" on the obverse. I took it to BJ the following year at FUN and he confirmed it for me and I submitted it to be included into their "Trail Dies" catalog and website. I then sent it to Tom K and ANACS and got it into a 72-S TD-001 "Discovery Coin Holder" and have been looking for them ever since.

Over the next few years, I didn't find many, but they were ALL in fairly late die state condition. Then, one day I stumbled across the EXACT SAME "Trail Die" on a 72-S Proof! :shock: ALL of the "Trails" matched up perfectly as did the MMP. Andy took some great pics of it and we included it into our list of DIVA's. This was proof that a 72-S Ike Proof Die was also used to strike the 40% Blue Ikes as well. Could there be more? :?:

Turns out....Yes! The same year, 1972 also produced a "Chekov's Larva" DIVA that can also be found in the Proof and Business Strike versions as well. Again, only a couple of Proofs (so far) compared to more Blue Ikes. We included it into our DIVA list as well.

Because of these two discoveries, I have been concentrating on trying to match up 40% silver proof dies to matching 40% silver Blue Ikes for a couple of years now. Trying to match more possible Blue and Brown Ike DIVA's. So far, I've only been able to find those two from 1972. Logic tells me a couple of things:
1. There should be more "Trail Die" Ikes with all the abrading going on in the series. So far, only an additional 74-D has been found (obviously, no matching proof die possible).
2. Technically, I believe that some of the die markers we use for the reverse of the "Stratocaster" DIVA 2SB-406 (the ones under the right wing) could be classified as "trails".
3. If a couple of proof dies where are matched to Blue Ikes in 1972, we should also have some in 1973 and 1974. (obviously, 1971 Reverse is out of the question, but Obverse is possible).

There is one example of a 73-S proof die being used on a 73-S business strike. PCGS has even certified this coin as being "Reverse Struck with a Proof Die". It is pretty obvious that the reverse is struck with a proof die on this coin, but the "proof-ness appearance" probably washed out fairly quickly. Without obvious die markers, (like DIVA characteristics), it would be hard to identify any other later-struck coins after this "proof-ness" washes out.

Other than the above 3 examples, the closest I could come to a certain Proof die being used somewhere else is the 74-S Micro S being used on BOTH the 40% Silver and the Clad Proofs. John Wexler helped me verify this and confirmed it many years ago.

Now that we have a fairly large group of Ike Group members, perhaps with more eyes looking for Brown and Blue Ike matching DIVA's and/or "Trail Dies", we could further expand our knowledge of Ike Varieties. I figured by throwing this out there on our "Research" section our Ike Group Forum, perhaps it would garner some interest and get some Ike collectors reviewing their inventory.

To better spot "Trial Dies"' it is easier to NOT have the light source from straight above the coin. I think it works best to have the light source coming from the side (I prefer an upper right) and then rotate the coin by hand. Otherwise, they are easily missed. MMP (Mint Mark Placement) and the tilted mint mark punch, and the LDS Stage D, are also a good indicators when searching for the 72-S Trail Die.

Happy Hunting!
Brian Vaile

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