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Variant.  A distinct variety; often one differing from a published variety in one or more details, as date, signature, figures, ornaments, legend, inscription or other lettering

on a numismatic item. These are important factors to numismatists and collectors as a variant usually (but not always) indicating a separate die. (Each die variety is important to identify and catalog for numismatic science.)

Differences in patina, finish, or plating, for example, do not indicate different varieties, as the presence or absence of an integral loop does not indicate a die variety. Also any inscribing or engraving on the surface of a struck piece does not constitute a difference in the die, as these operations are always performed after the piece was struck and not a different state of the die.

However, any die retooling, any retouching of the die after it has once struck a number of pieces, does indeed constitute a separate variety; just as a new die would. See die variety.

In cataloging, every variant should be identified and fully described. Comparison should be made to published varieties and differences noted between a specimen at hand and the published variety.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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