In early times at the Mint, during the die-making process an engraver would determine the center of each die, obverse and reverse, and tap a punch to create a tiny hole or depression. One end of a compass would then be placed in the hole and the other end used to scribe a circle inside the border so that stars or lettering could be aligned properly.
On finished coins this depression is often seen as a tiny raised dot—sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle. This suite of obverse pictures was selected by Andrew Bowers from our forthcoming auction coins to be sold at the Whitman Coins & Collectibles Expo in Baltimore.
For your own “adventure through a looking glass” tap into the high-quality pictures on our auction site and find more center dots, obverse and reverse, among early issues.