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    1896 Five-Cent Pattern Struck in a Unique Three-Metal Alloy, Judd-1770A

    1896 Five-Cents, Judd-1770A, Pollock-1988, Possibly Unique, PR 64 PCGS. A large shield is used as the central device with two long poles behind, one with a Phrygian cap on top, the other with an eagle, a scroll with LIBERTY engraved on it is draped across the center of the shield, the date is below, and E PLURIBUS UNUM above. The reverse has a large numeral 5 in the center with CENTS below, surrounded by a curved olive sprig, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around. Struck in a unique three-metal alloy with a plain edge.
    This is the now famous (see Coin World, January 4, 1993) discovery coin that sat in the vault of Devonshire Galleries for an undetermined amount of time until submitted to PCGS. Rick Montgomery had the piece subjected to elemental analysis which determined the coin to be composed of 74.5% copper, 12.9% iron, and 12.6% nickel. The Judd reference speaks of tests done in 1896 and '97 in order to determine if there was a more desirable metal composition that could be used for the production of one-cent and five-cent coins. Various copper, nickel, and bronze alloys were tried for the cent, and several alloys of aluminum, nickel, copper-nickel, and German silver were tried for five-cent patterns, alloys that give the five-cent pieces the look of "white metal." But it was the coin's pronounced coppery color with brassy undertones that caused Rick Montgomery to suspect something out of the ordinary in the first place, and indeed, it is the coin's high percentage of copper that gives it this appearance.
    The coin has a decided coppery-reddish-brown caste overall with blue tinted undertones. There are virtually no post-striking impairments, just a few tiny lint marks scattered about and die striations in the fields from polishing the dies. The fact that this coin contains such a high percentage of iron currently places it a unique category. Since the time of this coin's discovery, another piece has been certified as a Judd-1770A. That coin is owned by Wayne Wilcox, but this is the only one of the two that has been subjected to elemental analysis and proven to be struck from this peculiar three-metal alloy.
    Probably from Abe Kosoff's sale of October 10, 1957 where such a coin was described as, "AW 1736A 1896 5c Nickel in Copper, Unlisted." (PCGS# 61770)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 1996
    14th-17th Wednesday-Saturday
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