Shadow Ike Section II


In Part 1 the authors introduced the 1971-72 high relief Reverse Design Variety we call the “Shadow Ike” (“SI”) and pointed out that the same image is present on all 1972 (P) Type B CB Ikes, on a third of ’72-S SB Ikes.  We agreed that the ’72 Type 2 reverse was probably struck with a proof die and asked why the Shadow image was not present on either the ’71-S or ’72-S Ike Proof?

Figure 1,  THE 1972-S SB “SHADOW IKE”

In part 2, in order to provide a rational explanation for the changing Shadow image on the 1972-S SB Ikes and its absence on the ’71 and 72-S Ike Proofs, the authors will:

1.      review hubs and dies,  in order to lay a foundation for our observations and further discussions.
2.      report observations consistent with a conclusion that the dies which struck the reverse of both the ’71-S and ’72-S Ike Proofs originally had the Shadow image but the images were erased with the polishing these dies received to create frosted devices and mirror fields.
3.       review the Mint’s published monthly mintages of Ikes in 1971 and ’72.
4.      present our observation of 1971-S SB Ikes that indicate  progressive “fade” of the Shadow image, fade of the “Extra Lunar Lines”, and fade of the Design Peg Leg of the obverse R or LIBERTY as evidence the dies that struck this Ike  received multiple whole-face re-frosting treatments during their life span.


The Master Hub, created by the Janvier Reducing Lathe, reduces the original Galvano (typically 8 to 10 inches in diameter) to the exact size and relief (height of the image above the fields) of the side of the coin to be struck.  This process takes several days as the Galvano’s image is slowly etched onto the end of the same steel rod stock (“blanks”) used for the Master Hub, Master Die and Working Hubs (dies use the same stock but are cut longer).  

The Janvier-produced Master Hub is hardened and used to “hub” the “Master Die” (hubbing is the process of squeezing a hardened hub’s or die’s image into a softened (annealed) steel “blank” which will then become the next-in-line hubbed die or hub). 

The Master Die is then hardened (“tempered”) and used to hub “Working Hubs”, Working Hubs hub the dies and the dies strike the planchets to create the coins. 

All hubs look exactly like the corresponding face of the coin whereas dies look like a recessed mold of that face.  A hub’s features are said to be in “relief” whereas a die’s features are “incuse” (depressed into the die metal with images below the plane of the field of the die). 

Let’s use your face as an example:  we’ll call it a hub since it is in relief.  Rip off a big square of aluminum foil and press it firmly over all of your face (use your imagination or take a deep breath), thereby creating a mold of your face.  Now hold the molded foil in position but a foot away:   you will be looking at an incuse image of your face corresponding to a die.   You have just “hubbed” an incuse aluminum-foil “die” from a “hub” (your face).  Fortunately your face did not need to be hardened… 

When a die strikes a planchet, the planchet metal is forced into the incuse design sunk into that die.  If the strike is full, all the die’s incuse features will appear in relief on the struck planchet. 

The sequence outlined above provides for a Master Hub and Master Dies that serve to store the image.  The Mint tells us in general that each Master Die can hub up to a thousand Working Hubs, each of which can hub as many as a thousand dies but the number for Ike hubbings is probably quite a bit lower for the large Ike).  In 1971 and 1972, Ike dies lasted an average of 120,000 non-proof Ikes and roughly 1500 proof Ikes, so working hubs got a workout and the number of dies required for Ike Proofs is greater than that required for CB Ikes.  There are no die-life figures for SB Ikes that we know of but our observations suggest roughly 30,000 to 50,000. 

Now let’s get back to our incuse crescent on half the 1972-S BS Silver Ikes.  The die creating such an incuse detail would have that same feature in relief, rising above the die’s field.  (Having any element on a die rising above the plane of the field is highly unorthodox, yet Gasparro used the same approach to emphasize the separation of the Eagle’s legs and a few other details.) 

The hub that created the die that created the coin with an incuse feature, would have that same feature sunk into the hub (incuse), just like the feature on the struck coin.   Therefore incuse features on a coin could only be added to a hub, meaning a working hub since modifying a Master Hub is a major no-no (it is not possible to add metal to a die or a hub, it would break off during hubbing or striking coins). 

So, our little crescent-shaped incuse “shadow” on a third of the 1972-S SB Ikes (and on all the 1972(P) Type B Ikes) would appear as a little crescent mound rising above the field on the die that struck it.  

In the case of our Shadow Ike RDV, the Mint’s Master Engraver would have had to carefully carve out the incuse crescent on a Working Hub and then use that hub to make dies. 

Since roughly fifty reverse dies were required to strike the almost two million 1972-S BS Silver Ikes, only one working hub would have been required.  But two working hubs would be necessary to account for both the “Shadow Ike” and the normal non-shadow 1972-S BS Silver Ike.  Or is there a better explanation?


In the 1970’s, all hubs and die were made (and all the mint marks added) at the Philadelphia Mint.  Accordingly, the 1971 and 1972 High Relief reverse dies destined for San Francisco Proof production were checked for flaws after their last Hubbing, mint-marked, hardened and shipped to San Francisco.  At the San Francisco Mint, all Proof dies were frosted over their entire surface and then their fields were carefully and thoroughly polished to insure a perfect mirror finish that would contrast with their now deeply frosted devices.  (It is likely that these High Relief Proof dies were also given a test polish at the Philly Mint and again at the San Francisco Mint prior to frosting.) 

Remember that all Ike dies had relatively flat fields.  Proof dies are simply dies that have been frosted and polished:  the recessed images maintain their frosting while polishing turns the die’s fields into mirrors creating cameo contrast.  This frosting and polishing, by the way, was repeated several times over the life of Ike proof dies to maintain a high proportion of cameo proofs. 

All these polishings given the 1971-S and 1972-S Proof dies is the rub, literally, as it would probably have removed our little, shallow, in-relief crescent.  At first glance it seems, therefore, that we have no way of knowing if the 1971-S and 1972-S Proof reverse was created by Shadow Ike High-Relief hubbed dies or non-Shadow Ike High-Relief hubbed dies. 

We can say that the Shadow Ike reverse die that struck Herb’s one-die March Type B run was not a misplaced high relief San Francisco polished Proof reverse die.  More likely it was a die pulled from high-relief “Shadow Ike” reverse-die Philly stock destined to be prepared for the San Francisco Mint.


“OK”, you think, “But was the 1972 Type B struck with a 1971 or a 1972 high relief Type B reverse die?”

Normally it wouldn’t matter as identical High Relief reverse dies carrying the TYPE B design would have been used in both 1971 and 1972 Proof production (the date is carried on the obverse die), but in this case it’s worth digging a bit due to the possibility of two different reverse designs, one with and one without the Shadow. 

The 1971-72 production dates are interesting in this regard.  TABLE 1 provides the specifics.  Keep in mind that Herb’s 1972 March Type B was probably run somewhere in January or February 1972 and no later than early March.  

To help get you oriented, the important information from TABLE 1 for our purposes is this: 

–  the bulk of 1971-S Proofs were minted in December 1971 and March, 1972;
–  the 1972-S Silver business strike Ike was minted late in 1972  (October, November and December) as was  the 1972-S Ike Proof  (September and December).


(1972 Ikes are in italics) 

____________Calendar Year 1971________________ 

                     CUNI-CLAD       SB IKES              SP IKES 

JAN                         -0-                  -0-                          -0-
FEB                         -0-                  -0-                          -0-
MAR                       -0-                  -0-                          -0-
APR                         -0-                  -0-                         -0-
MAY                       -0-                  -0-                          -0-
JUNE                        -0-            497,010                      -0-
JULY               7,750,000        2,599,044                    -0-
AUG               21,131,000       1,185,020                     -0-
SEPT              22,423,000       1,405,024                  2,180
OCT               18,009,000          495,404                     -0-
NOV              14,554,000          487,024                      -0-
DEC               32,519,424                  -0-                 1,219,990 (1971)

______________Calendar Year 1972_________________

                      CUNI-CLAD         SB IKES             SP IKES

JAN                26,284,000                  -0-                      -0-
FEB                29,719,000                   -0-                      -0-
MAR              24,992,000           200,004 (1971!)    2,806,244 (1971!) (and ‘72 T2!)     
APR               14,160,000                    -0-                      -0-
MAY              15,300,000                   -0-                      540 (?)
JUNE                6,432,225                   -0-                     236,820 (1971!)
JULY                6,845,286                   -0-                       -0-
AUG               14,999,000                   -0-                       -0-
SEP                 15,466.000                  -0-                  1,490,250
OCT                11,663,000            948,024                    -0-
NOV                 2,578,000            879,024                     -0-
DEC                         -0-                344,008                 320,841

It seems likely Herb’s March 1972(P) Type B Ike with its high relief proof die reverse was struck with a 1971-S Proof  reverse die (remember that only the Proof 1971-S was struck in high relief:  the 1971-S BU Silver Ike was struck in low relief and with a different design.   We can thus reason that the 1971-S Proof high relief reverse die probably had the Shadow image even though the Shadow image does not show on any 1971-S Ike Proofs due to proof die polishing.


The incuse crescent is not the only incuse feature on the “Shadow Ike” (“SI”).  Two sets of incuse lines can also be found in the fields hugging the lunar margin on either side of the Eagle (Figure 3a).  It seems Frank Gasparro really liked his early Ikes to have incuse features.

Figure 3a, 1972-S Shadow Ike’s additional incuse lines at lunar margin.

As one would expect, these incuse lines are also found on the 1972(P) Type B reverse.

Figure 3b, same incuse lines on the 1972(P) Type B reverse.

And, these incuse lines can be found on about a third of non-Shadow 1972-S SB Ikes, but when present then they are not nearly as robust as on the Shadow Ike.  In fact they present in a spectrum of “fade” from middling to gone. 

Here we go again:  is it possible that the Shadow Ike die’s fields were whole-face abraded/polished several times during the die’s lifetime?  (Note that weak strikes result in weak higher-relief details, not weak low-relief or shallow incuse details, so varying strike force is not an explanation.) 

The answer is a yes, entirely possible!  It is likely that periodic re-frosting was necessary to maintain a high percentage of well-frosted 1972-S SB Ikes and each such re-frosting would probably have been proceeded by whole-field abrading/polishing to remove any residual frosting using the same “lapping” machine used to polish dies being prepared for striking proofs.  The dies would then be re-frosted, we think via air-blasted small particulates. 

In other words, it is possible that the Shadow Image was the Original High Relief Reverse Design present on all ’71-72-S high relief dies and on all ’72-S SB Ikes.  But it was polished off all the ’71 and ’72 proof Ike dies.   And through a different mechanism was progressively abraded/polished off all 72-S SB Ikes by about 1/3 of their die life. 

This is a challenging and revolutionary concept but there are two soft “tests” we can quickly carry out (and more to follow as time allows):
–          First, might we find some subtle indications of shadow residua on some 1971-S and 1972-S Ike Proofs?
–          Second, are there other indications of field abrading/polishing on the 1972-S business strike Ikes that do not have the Shadow image?

The first test  –  It’s not difficult to find both ’71-S and ’72-S Ike Proofs with traces of incuse shadow image (Fig 4a).

Figure 4a, 1972-S Ike Proof on your left, 1971-S Ike Proof on your right

This Shadow residua is very subtle  –  you have to slowly wobble the proof under a grading lamp to get the reflection just right.  Challenging but not impossible.  My guess is 10% of 71-S and 72-S Proofs have this feature. 

The second test  –  Figure 4b (below) was taken from four 1972-S business strike Ikes pulled from a pile of about 20 just by the fullness of the Obverse peg leg R.  You are looking at a miniature experiment indicating that the Shadow image is present when the left Peg Leg of the R is full and absent when the leg is significantly less full. 

When a greater number of 72-S SB Ikes are examined:
–         10-15% have the full Shadow image with a full Peg Leg,
–         another 20-30% have a weaker Shadow with less fullness of the Peg Leg
–          and 60-70% have no Shadow image and varying further loss of Peg Leg fullness. 

As mentioned earlier, the “Extra Lunar Lines” are full when the Shadow image is full, fade a bit as the Shadow fades but can be found fading further in about half the 72-S SB Ikes with no Shadow.   The fullness-fade of these Lines also correlates with the fullness-fade of the Peg Leg,

These observations are not easy to see at first:  the Shadow image has gradual boundaries so it takes a bit of practice to pick out the full examples from the not-quite full from the really not-full examples.  With respect to the obverse Peg Leg, its high relief design  means progressive fade is not as obvious as is the case with the low relief 1971-S Peg Leg Proof Ike.  But with study and practice, one can pick out the un-faded Shadow images by the full obverse Peg Legs.  In fact, it’s easier to judge degree of fade in hand than it is to judge from my pictures below, probably because we have a sense of all three dimensions of the devices in hand but only two in photographs, but here they are anyway. 

Each set of four photographs below in Figure 4b was taken with identical coin placement, ‘scope and camera settings.  The Shadow image is difficult to photograph and I did not try to get the best possible angle of coin against lighting to bring it out.  Each coin is angled just a bit on the same make-shift stand for consistency.  The resulting images more or less re-create the appearance of the Shadow image with the coin casually in hand.

Figure 4b, four 1972-S SB Ikes in reverse-obverse left-right pairs top to bottom:


We’ve learned that Herb Hicks found quite a few “Variant” (Type 2) Ikes in March 1972 that all had a high relief reverse that seemed identical to that on the 1971-S Ike Proof, except Herb’s ’72 Variant Ikes also have a “Shadow” hugging the Earth from 10:30 to 11:30 and two sets of distinct incuse lines in the fields just off the lunar margins on either side of the eagle. 

We learned that the 1972-S SB Ike carries this same reverse as Herb’s Type-2 Ikes but only about a third have the shallow incuse “Shadow” and only about 2/3’s have the two sets of distinct incuse lines in the field at the lunar margin (“Extra Lunar Lines”). 

We’ve learned that the Shadow image is strong on about 15-20% of 72-S SB Ikes and weaker to very weak on another 15-20% of 72-S SB Ikes. 

We’ve learned that the “Extra Lunar Lines” are strong when the Shadow image is strong, weaker when the Shadow image is weaker.  The lines persist, however, on about half of 72-S silver business strike Ikes when no Shadow image is present, in varying degrees of fade from faded to fade-out. 

We’ve learned that the Obverse Peg Leg R of LIBERTY seems to fade in lock-step with the fading Shadow image and Extra Lunar Lines, consistent with sequential whole-field abrading/polishing one would expect could be part of multiple die re-frosting treatments. 

We’ve also learned that maybe 10% of ‘71-S and ‘72-S SP Ikes show subtle Shadow image residua when the proof is slowly wobbled under a good light source, a soft but intriguing indication that the high relief reverse dies that struck these proofs had the incuse Shadow image before they were repeatedly polished as part of their initial proof-die preparation.

–         to be continued –