Destroying Working Dies in 1888

[photo: Philadelphia Mint officials watch as blacksmiths prepare to destroy an old die]

Philadelphia Mint officials watch as blacksmiths prepare to destroy an old die by heating it
until it is red hot and hitting it with a sledgehammer to blot out the design.
Photo Courtesy: Roger Burdette, Copyright 2014

By law, the Philadephia Mint required branch mints to ship the dated side of the dies back to the main mint annually. However, Carson City and San Francisco obtained permission to destroy their own dies in order to save shipping costs. Unused dies in good condition (without dates, i.e. reverse dies) could be kept for later use. At the Carson City branch mint, dies that were no longer usable (like the one here) were normally canceled by making an "X" through the design using a chisel, and then buried.