Intriguing 1804 Obverse Die Impression on 1838 Cent

    1804 10C --Struck on 1838 1C--Judd Appendix A, Pollock-6070, R.8. AU58 NGC. Uniface obverse die impression on 1838 N-1 cent. Medium brown surfaces, the host coin appearing to grade about VG or Fine. The obverse impression from the dime die is virtually Mint State, with remnants of frosty luster. Most of the surface marks remain from the quality of the host coin.

    Die State.
    Same as, or later than, the latest known die state of 1804 JR-2. There appears to be an extensive bulge along the left perimeter of the dime impression.

    Condition Census.
    This piece is far finer than the other known example illustrated on page 225 of the Judd reference.

    Plated in United States Patterns and Related Issues, by Andrew W. Pollock, III, page 457.

    Obverse Die.
    The 1 joins the lowest curl and the 4 is about centered between the bust and the border. LIBERTY is widely spaced with LIB closer than BERTY. Stars 1 and 7 are far from the curl and L, star 8 is closer to the Y, and star 13 is closest to the drapery.
    State a. Later than any known die state of contemporary 1804 dimes.

    Heritage Commentary.
    Some past literature has referred to this piece and others like it as an Obverse Die Trial. We much prefer Andrew Pollock's term of Obverse Die Impression, as it undoubtedly occurred at a much later date. It is likely that these pieces were made in the 1860s, at about the same time as the 1804 Restrike cents and other related items were manufactured, perhaps by or under the direction of Joseph Mickley. The Joseph Mickley auction catalog included a number of coin dies, most or all that were repurchased by the government. If the 1804 obverse die for dimes was part of that sale, it would be a good clue about the time that these pieces were made. Since this example is on an 1838 large cent host coin, the earliest possible date of manufacture is obviously established, and the low grade of the host coin indicates that it must have been in circulation for quite some time before it was retrieved for use on this piece.

    Undertype Attribution.
    Past discussion of this piece has stated that the undertype is that of an 1838 large cent, which is correct. However, nobody has attempted to attribute the undertype by Newcomb number. The challenge was just too great to ignore! Since 1838 ranks among the most difficult years of the middle dates to attribute even when a complete coin is present, the remnants visible on this piece only heighten the challenge.

    The 1838 cents are known with either a long or short-peaked 1 in the date, and either a perfect or broken E in LIBERTY. The broken E pieces are missing the upper left serif. The undertype appears to have a short-peaked 1 and a broken E. Only three of the 15 known die varieties, N-1, 4, and 6, have such a combination. On the reverse, the tail of the R appears slightly above the base of the adjacent I. Of the three varieties, that feature is only observed on N-1. In fact, of all 15 varieties, the reverse feature is only found on N-1 and N-5.

    Consignor Commentary.
    There are two of these restrikes known. I have owned both of them. The other is much lower grade. They were apparently made outside the Mint using a discarded 1804 obverse dime die--probably many decades after 1804.

    Ex: Hal Birt, Jr. (Glass Shoppe Coins, Tucson, Arizona); Allstate Coin Co. (4/1994); Henry Hilgard (1/1998).
    From The Ed Price Collection.
    (Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 236N, PCGS# 4474)

    Weight: 2.70 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

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

    View all of [Ed Price Collection ]

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