Images courtesy of Byers
Dies with images of Martha Washington and Mount Vernon were first used
circa 1965 to strike a group of experimental pieces testing a variety of metal alloys. Mint officials claim that all
of the 1965 experimental pieces were either destroyed or otherwise accounted
for. Until 2000, the only examples known were four sets of Martha
Washington "Dimes", Quarter Dollars", and "Half
Dollars" embedded in Lucite and given to Congress, the Mint Director
and the Smithsonian Institution. A fourth set was mutilated for metallurgical
Beginning in 2000, examples of the
Martha Washington "Cent", "Dime", " Quarter Dollar" and "Golden Dollar" began appearing on the
In April 10, 2000, Paul Gilkes
of Coin World reported the
discovery of a Martha Washington Dime: "The Martha Washington/Mount Vernon dies
were most recently used during metallurgical die trial testing for the
Sacagawea dollar". Around July 2000, a poorly struck, slightly
off-center, uniface Martha Washington "Cent" appeared on the
market. In February 2002, nice examples of the Martha Washington
"Cent" and "Quarter Dollar" appeared on the
market. Both of the recently discovered Martha Washington
"Cents" were struck on copper-coated zinc planchets of the type
used on Lincoln Cents beginning in 1982.
The U.S. Mint conducted
metallurgical tests in 1999 on the golden colored manganese-clad planchets
which would later be used for the Sacagawea Dollar.
For the first time, the U.S.
Mint included representatives from Industry because the new Sacagawea Dollar
would have to be completely interchangeable with the existing SBA Dollar.
The electromagnetic fingerprint had to be identical. All of the metals
combined changed the alloy's electromagnetic properties. Many tests were
conducted including those at IDX Inc., Olin Brass and PMX Industries.
In another Coin World article
on July 16th, 2001, James Halsey, President of IDX Inc. was interviewed. IDX
Inc. is one of the firms contracted by the U.S. Mint to test prototypes. Mr.
Halsey said "numerous samples in different alloys bearing the Martha
Washington obverse and Mt. Vernon reverse dies - special designs used for
experimental coinage - were shipped to IDX Inc. for testing. Some of the
packages were insured for as high as $250,000, with the recipients required
to return any and all pieces supplied by the Mint for tests."
Two other firms under contract
by the U.S. Mint include Olin Brass and PMX Industries. Both of these
companies supply the U.S. Mint with the manganese-clad strips from which the
Sacagawea Dollars are struck. Olin Brass is a leading U.S. copper alloy
producer and is located in East Alton, Illinois. PMX Industries is located
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Sources and/or recommended
April 10, 2000
July 16, 2001
Byers Numismatic Corp.
website at www.byersnc.com
Eagle Numismatics website at www.coinmaven.com/martha.html