Possibly Unique 1851 Pattern Cent--Struck From A Previously Unknown Silver Composition

    1851 One Cent, Unlisted in Adams-Woodin, Unlisted in Judd, Unlisted in Pollock, Presumed Unique, MS 63. The obverse is of the Seated Liberty design employed on the silver coins from this year. The obverse was evidently crudely reduced from an 1851 silver dollar die using a portrait lathe. The reverse has a large 1 CENT in the center and is surrounded at the margin by a wreath of oak leaves and acorns. Struck in a unique silver-copper-nickel-zinc alloy with a reeded edge.
    When we first attempted to catalog this piece, we were unsure of its metallic composition. Most of these patterns were struck either from a nickel or a German silver alloy. Despite its name German silver contains no silver, but is composed of varying amounts of nickel, copper, and zinc. However, when lightly tapped on the edge this piece gave off the unmistakable ring of silver. To be certain, the piece was taken to Metallurgical Engineering Services and an energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy was done. The results were: 78.02% silver, 13.70% copper, 5.61% nickel, and 2.67% zinc.
    The appearance of this coin requires a bit of commentary also. Most of the details are very weakly defined, and the rim is irregular on each side. A passage under Pollock-186 may explain why and may also explain the origin of the piece: "Most of the pieces offered over the years are electrotypes said to have been made at the Mint in such a way as to have a clear ring." But this passage is listed under copper coins with no listings or mention ever made of a silver piece. We believe that this piece was struck at the same time as the copper pieces, but from a previously undocumented, primarily silver alloy. A similar discovery was made in April by J. Parrino who found another unique composition of this same design, that piece tested out as 71% copper, 20% nickel, and 9% zinc. The Parrino coin was submitted to NGC and given a Judd listing of 157a, but no Pollock cross-reference number was given. The discovery of such off-metal strikings reinforce that new discoveries can always be made if one is alert and open-minded. We welcome any communication others may have regarding this special piece. (PCGS# 60150)

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    Auction Dates
    August, 1998
    7th-10th Friday-Monday
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