The 2-centavo Aztec Calendar Stone dies
by Steven Phillips Whitcombe

Introduction:

To the best of my knowledge (which is admittedly not extensive in the area), nothing has been written on the multitude of dies used for this issue. The recognized types (separate or connected beads) are easy to differentiate for the most part; the differences within those types are a bit harder to see, but are nevertheless significant.

The following description is based on the examination of 164 post cards (MPS P-129 II) and 32 wrappers (MPS W-55). That is a woefully small number of pieces; it would be hard to say that I expect to find no more types. Twenty-one easily-identifiable types have been identified thus far; all but one have been found on post cards. I was initially quite surprised to discover that the same dies were used on both types of stationery. Nothing should be surprising.

The die types are not listed (nor numbered) chronologically, but rather are grouped by similar features.

The die descriptions and illustrations are followed by some selected statistics.

Terms:

The terms used in the type descriptions following need some clarification . . . several features of the stamp design are of interest; usually a type can be identified by focusing on one or two of these characteristics.

Inner and outer dot circles

These are the rings of (connected or un-connected) dots which enclose the text of the design . . . they are referred to as top (or bottom) inner (or outer) dot circles.

Dashes

These are the more-or-less horizontal ornaments above and below the circles enclosing the numerals of value. Their size and position can vary substantially . . . they will be described as short or long (in general, short dashes stay within an imaginary continuation of the inner dot circle; long dashes extend through this line, sometimes coming quite close to the central vignette). The dashes have pointed ends; a vector from one of the outward pointing tips will point to a position before or within one of the outer dot-circle segments . . . this characteristic is often used to identify the types. The dashes are often referred to as upper-left (above the left numeral); lower-left (below the left numeral), and so forth.

Curliques

These are the terminations of the solid white border of the design, at their intersections with the numeral circles. There are four of them (generally referred to as upper-left, etc.). They may be shallow (the line of color defining the scroll curves somewhat but does not curl into a fully-formed circle) or deep (the curl is well-formed). They also may or may not touch the numeral circles; when they do not touch, the line of color separating them may be thin to very thick.

curliquesShallow curlique, left. Deep at right.

Dot-width

. . . is an arbitrary and somewhat inexact way to describe distances of features from each other. It is about the size of one of the dots comprising the border . . . but one must remember that the degree of inking will affect the appearance of the printed stamp.

A. ACS-2-I -- Separate dots

In the 2-centavo denomination, the separate-dot type is very scarce. None have been examined.

B. ACS-2-II -- Connected dots

A. All four curliques are "shallow".

Classification below based on the relation between the upper-left dash and the first dot at the left end of the top outer dot-circle. (8 sub-types):

A-i

i. Dash points just before first dot. Bottom inner dot-circle centered, about 1 dot-width from dashes at left and right (slightly closer at right). Curliques never touch numeral circles.

A-ii

ii. Dash points at first dot. Bottom inner dot-circle starts 2 dot-widths from left; 1 1/2 from right. Curliques never touch numeral circles.

A-iii

iii. Dash grazes left edge of first dot. Bottom inner dot-circle starts 1 1/4 dot-widths from left; very close at right.

There are at least three variations of this subtype, with varying distance of the first dot at left of the bottom outer dot-circle from the left curlique (1/2 - 3/4 dot), and whether this first dot is separate (to completely connected). Curliques do not touch numeral circles, except at LR close in the subtype which has 1st dot (above) completely separate.

A-iv

iv. Dash as iii. Bottom inner dot-circle close both at left and right ends. UR & LR curliques close; may touch (depending on inking).

A-v

v. Dash points well before 1st dot (actually points almost at curlique). Top & bottom inner dot circles very far from dashes at left & right. Very wide color line between all curliques and numeral circles.

A-vi

vi. Dash points just past middle of 1st dot. This (first) dot is very close to the curlique. Lower-right dash points after last dot in bottom outer circle. LL curlique very close and may touch; the others are clear.

A-vii

vii. quite similar to vi, but LR dash points between last two dots. Curliques generally do not touch, but LR very close.

A-viii

viii. dash points between 1st and 2nd dots. Bottom inner dot-circle 3/4 dot-width from left; 1 1/2 from right. Bottom outer dot-circle 1 dot-width from left; very close at right. Top outer dot-circle very close at left and right. All four curliques widely separated from numeral circles.

Groups B, C and D have deep curliques. The classification that follows is based arbitrarily on the relation between the dash above the left numeral and the first dot in the top outer ring.

B. All dots start far from the ornaments

. . . in particular, the white dash above the left numeral points well before the first dot.

B

(no sub-types)

Groups C and D (all of which have sub-types) have dots starting either close to, or far from, various ornaments; however in all cases the dots, at one or more ends of the inner or outer circles, start quite close to an ornament.

C. The dash above the left "2" just grazes the left edge of the first dot.

(6 sub-types):

C-i

i. All four dashes are inside the inner dot circles ("short" dashes). Bottom inner dot-circle a full dot-width from dash at right. Curliques at left never touch numeral circles, although both are close; LR often touches.

C-ii

ii. As i (short dashes); bottom inner dot circle very close (less than 1/2 dot-width) to dash at right. Curliques at left always touch numeral circle also usually LR.

C-iii

iii. Long dashes (extend closer to central vignette than does inner dot-circle). Bottom inner dot-circle starts about 1 1/4 dot-widths from left; 3/4 from right. Curliques never touch numeral circles.

C-iv

iv. As iii (long dashes). Bottom inner dot circle starts 2 dot-widths from left and right dashes, about centered. Bottom outer circle starts about 1 dot from left; 1 1/4 from right. LL and UR curliques very deep, with a strong curl; LL has a fine, thin line of color. Curliques almost always touch circles.

C-v

v. similar to iv, with slightly differing distances. LL and UR curliques are less deep, with a loose curl; the line of color at LL is thick. All curliques close to numeral circles, but don't usually touch.

C-vi

vi. similar to iv and v, but the outer dot circle is very close (less than 1/2 dot-width) to curliques at L & R of bottom. UL curlique never touches numeral circle; the others usually do.

D. The dash above the left "2" points well into, or beyond, first dot.

All have medium dashes, extending just beyond inner dot-circle.

(6 sub-types):

D-i

i. Dash points between first and second dots. Inner and outer dot- circles very close to dashes at left and right ends. UL curlique always touches numeral circle; LR usually also . . . the others may or may not. There is a small dot in the inner ball of the UR curlique.

(all other sub-types, dash points at about the center of the first dot) . . .

D-ii

ii. Tip of dash above left numeral about 1 dot-width from the (first) dot. Outer dot-circle at top about 1/2 dot-width from left curlique; 1 from right. UR curlique never touches numeral circle; the others may or may not.

(all other sub-types, tip of dash above left numeral close -- less than 1/2 dot-width -- from the dot).

D-iii

iii. Bottom inner dot-circle centered, about one dot-width from left and right. Curliques never touch numeral circles.

D-iv

iv. quite similar to iii, but dash at LR touches curlique. UL & LR curliques touch the numeral circles; the others never.

D-v

v. Bottom inner dot-circle about one dot-width from left; 1/2 from right. Bottom outer dot-circle close at left and right ends (less than 1/2 dot-width) to curliques. Curliques are close to the numeral circles, but only rarely do any touch.

D-vi

vi. Bottom inner dot-circle about 3/4 dot-width from left; 1/4 from right. Bottom outer dot-circle at least 1/2 dot-width from left and right. UR curlique always touches the numeral circle; also usually UR & LR; LL never.

Analysis

The types and subtypes listed above were classified based on somewhat arbitrary physical characteristics; it may have been better to have used a different system. In any event, there is no element of chronology included. Following is a chronological list, based on the limited number of examples in the total sampling (164 cards; 32 wrappers).

A. Post Cards (PC-129 II)

Type Earliest Date Latest Date number
IIDiii Mar, 1923 Dec, 1923 8
IICvi Mar, 1923 Oct, 1927 7
IICii May, 1923 Dec, 1925 13
IIB Sept, 1923 May, 1926 22
IIDii Oct, 1923 June, 1926 15
IIDv Oct, 1923 Apr, 1928 16
IIDvi Dec, 1923 Jul, 1930 17
IICi May, 1924 Jun, 1924 6
IICiii Sept, 1924 Jan, 1926 13
IICiv Dec, 1924 Jul, 1930 4
Type Earliest Date Latest Date number
IIAvi Feb, 1925 Jul, 1930 7
IIAi Sept, 1925 Jul, 1930 4
IIDiv Sept, 1925 Oct, 1928 4
IICv Nov, 1925 (---) 2
IIDi Nov, 1925 Jul, 1929 5
IIAiii Nov, 1925 Jul, 1929 9
IIAvii Dec, 1925 Jun, 1927 3
IIAv Jan, 1926 Jul, 1930 2
IIAiv Apr, 1928 Dec, 1928 4
IIAii Jul, 1928 Dec, 1928 3

B. Wrappers (W-55)

Type Earliest Date Latest Date number
IIDiv Dec, 1922 May, 1927 6
IICv Dec, 1922 Sept, 1924 6
IIDii Feb, 1923 (-?) 2
IIDi Apr, 1923 (-?) 2
IICiv Oct, 1923 Jun, 1924 3
IIAi Nov, 1926 (-?) 1
IIAvii Jun, 1926 (-?) 1
IIAvi Sept, 1926 (-?) 1
Type Earliest Date Latest Date number
IIDv Jan, 1927 (-?) 2
IIDiii Jun, 1927 Oct, 1927 2
IIAviii Nov, 1927 (-?) 1
IICvi ? (-?) 2
IICi ? (-?) 1
IICii ? (-?) 1
IICiii ? (-?) 1
.

C. Distribution of types:

Type P-129 II W-55
A-i * *
A-ii *
A-iii *
A-iv *
A-v *
A-vi * *
A-vii * *
A-viii *
B *
.
.
.
Type P-129 II W-55
C-i * *
C-ii * *
C-iii * *
C-iv * *
C-v * *
C-vi * *
D-i * *
D-ii * *
D-iii * *
D-iv * *
D-v * *
D-vi *

Copyright (c)1997 by Steven P. Whitcombe

Last updated 16 December 1997.