A coin die is an extremely hardened, metal stamping tool that’s able to withstand the high pressures that are needed to strike coin planchets. At a die’s peak is the reverse or negative image of the coin.
For a mental image, think of a coin die as a shaped cookie cutter and the cookie dough as the coin planchet. Press them together and, bingo… you’re ready to cook!
Of course no cooking happens in the minting process. Instead, a mint’s coin press takes both the attached front and back dies, waits for a coin planchet to cycle through, and then, faster than the mind can comprehend, strikes and pounds the planchet multiple times under enormous pressure. The end result is the formation of the final coin.
What are coin dies worth?
Today’s coin dies are able to stamp tens of thousands of coins before being replaced. To prevent counterfeiting, used up coin dies are destroyed or defaced. It’s not uncommon to find these retired coin dies sold as a kind of novelty coin item. At the U.S. Mint, for example, you can purchase a coin and die set for under $40.
Retired coin dies can be an interesting desk item or conversation piece for sure. But they’re not on the minds of most daily coin collectors. Out of curiosity I purchased one some years back. Yet, I can’t say I know where it is… I do know where all my coins are though!