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    Description

    1792 Small Pattern Cent, Judd-2, SP53
    Only Six Specimens Available to Collectors
    Second-Finest Known Example
    Ex: Parmelee-Brand-Norweb-Weinberg

    1792 P1C Small Pattern Cent, Judd-2, Pollock-2, Low R.7, SP53 PCGS Secure. CAC. Only nine examples of the 1792 Small Pattern cent (Judd-2) have been traced by present-day numismatists, making the issue much more elusive than its famous Silver Center cent counterpart. Of the nine specimens known, the finest is sequestered in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and another has been donated to the American Numismatic Association. A third example was once located in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, but that piece has been missing since the 1920s, leaving only six coins available to satisfy the intense collector demand. Unlike the Judd-1 Silver Center cents, which are seen in relatively high grade, most Judd-2 Small Pattern cents are in well-worn or impaired condition, making high-grade examples exceptional rarities. Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer the finest available specimen of this rare early pattern in just its third auction appearance.

    Design

    Obverse: Head of Liberty facing right, with hair flowing behind. Inscription LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUST: around, with the date 1792 below the bust. Reverse: An open wreath, tied by a ribbon at the bottom, enclosing the words ONE CENT, with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA around and the fraction 1/100 below. Struck in copper or billon, with a reeded edge. Medal turn. This specimen weighs 62.2 grains, with a diameter of 22.4 mm.

    Problems With the Cent

    The Mint Act of 1792 established the United States Mint and outlined a prospective monetary system for the new country. The basic monetary unit was the dollar, equivalent to the Spanish milled dollar, which was widely accepted throughout the region at the time. The cent was to be worth one hundredth part of the dollar, equivalent to 264 grains of pure copper. However, a coin containing that amount of pure copper would be too large for practical use.

    Thomas Paine's Input

    Famous patriot Thomas Paine had formulated a plan for the establishment of the Mint a full two years before the passage of the Mint Act, when he was living in London. Among other issues, he considered the problem of the cent and made several suggestions on the subject in a September 28, 1790-dated letter to then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Paine suggested adding silver to the composition of the cent, in order to produce a coin of full intrinsic value, with a smaller, more practical size. He suggested three methods for accomplishing this, "1st. Mixing silver and copper in fusion-2d. Plating the copper with silver-3d. Plugging the copper with silver." Paine found important objections to all of these solutions, however, and concluded it would be more practical to produce a fiat copper coin of lesser intrinsic value for the cent, to insure a large profit in seigniorage for the Mint and avoid problems with counterfeiting and multi-step production. Jefferson was impressed with Paine's thinking and arranged to have his plan published in the National Gazette, November 17, 1791 edition.

    Striking Patterns for the Cent

    Jefferson remembered Paine's ideas and passed them on to Chief Coiner Henry Voigt and Mint Director David Rittenhouse when the Mint began striking patterns for coinage in 1792. A December 18, 1792-dated letter from Jefferson to President George Washington outlined the different approaches to the problem with the proposed cent coinage:

    "Th. Jefferson has the honor to send the President two cents made on Voigt's plan by putting a silver plug worth ¾ of a cent into a copper worth ¼ of a cent. Mr. Rittenhouse is about to make a few by mixing the same plug by fusion with the same quantity of copper. He will then make of copper alone of the same size, and lastly he will make the real cent as ordered by Congress, four times as big."



    From this, we gather that Jefferson discounted the possibility of plating the copper cent with silver, but saw some promise in bringing up the value by plugging (which was sometimes done with underweight silver and gold coins by "Regulators"), or mixing the two metals by fusion. He apparently gave some thought to Paine's suggested small-size copper fiat coinage, as well, and patterns representing all three of these alternatives were produced, in addition to the full-sized Birch cent. An entry in Voigt's journal establishes that the Silver Center cents were struck on December 17, 1792 and Jefferson's letter indicates the Fusible Alloy and Small Pattern cents were struck sometime shortly afterward.

    Confusion About the Small Pattern Cents

    The Small Pattern cents have always been something of an enigma to students of the series, as the small pure copper pieces are impossible to distinguish visually from the Fusible Alloy specimens. Dr. J. Hewitt Judd lumped both issues together under the same series number (Judd-2) in his important pattern reference, since they were so hard to tell apart. Andrew Pollock suggested the copper patterns were struck simply to illustrate the Fusible Alloy design to Congressmen and other VIPs, and he followed Judd's lead in listing them both as a single variety, Pollock-2. We believe the Small Pattern cents were actually intended to model a completely different concept, Thomas Paine's fiat copper coinage, and should not be identified with the same variety number as the Fusible Alloy cents.

    In recent years, x-ray fluorescence testing has been performed on seven of the known Small Pattern cents, thanks to a group effort involving more than a dozen collectors and researchers (thanks to Pete Smith for this information). Although this testing has certain limitations, the results are reliable within a small margin of error. Results indicate six of the surviving Judd-2s are more-or-less pure copper specimens and one example has a Fusible Alloy composition. The other two coins have not been tested (see test results in the roster below).

    In the end, none of the 1792 cent patterns was adopted for coinage, as Congress changed the specification for the cent, lowering the required copper content to 208 grains, making it possible to produce a coin of full intrinsic value with a manageable size.

    The Small Pattern Cent at Auction

    The Small Pattern cents began appearing at auction at least as early as lot 220 of the J.N.T. Levick Collection (Edward Cogan, 12/1859):

    "1792 Cent, LIBERTY, PARENT OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY, head of Liberty; rev. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ONE CENT, 1/100, fine, and very rare. Size 14."



    The lot realized $50, a strong price for the time. The sale was noted, along with an example of the Birch cent in lot 219, by W.C. Prime in his book Coins, Medals and Seals, page 96:

    "A few copper patterns for a cent, with a similar legend (referring to the 1792 disme and half disme, which he described before) were issued the same year. One of these was sold, in January, 1860 (sic), at a Philadelphia auction, for $66.50, and another for $50. These prices will give an idea of the present rarity of the coins."



    The same Small Pattern cent was offered in lot 611 of the Alfred B. Taylor Collection (Edward Cogan, 5/1860), just a few months later, and realized another strong price of $30.50, down a little from the previous sale, as might be expected.

    Auction appearances were widely spaced for the remainder of the 19th and throughout the 20th centuries. Discounting William Strobridge's aborted sale of the Seavey Collection in 1873, we can trace only four more public offerings of a Judd-2 that occurred during the remainder of the 19th century, and one of them (the Seavey sale in 1863) probably offered a spurious example. The Judd-2 had only nine public auction appearances of a legitimate specimen during the entire 20th century. A recent flurry of activity has seen examples offered about once per year since 2010. The record price realized for any Small Pattern cent is $603,750, brought by the then-VF30 PCGS (now SP35 PCGS Secure, CAC) specimen in lot 3462 of the Madison Collection (Heritage, 1/2008).

    The Present Coin

    The first mention of the coin offered here is an oblique reference made by Philadelphia numismatist Harold P. Newlin in some correspondence with prominent collector T. Harrison Garrett, dated June 30, 1886. The two men were discussing the Small Pattern cent offered in lot 146 of the Edward Maris Sale (H.P. Smith, 6/1886), which Newlin had just purchased, acting as agent for Garrett. Newlin noted, "This is the only specimen I have ever seen offered. It was until recently in Parmelee's Collection. He replaced it with one a little finer for which he paid $110. This piece is worth all I paid for it." The present coin is the "one a little finer" that Boston numismatist Lorin G. Parmelee acquired when he upgraded the specimen he had previously owned from his purchase of George F. Seavey's collection in 1873. Parmelee, who formed perhaps the finest collection of U.S. coins offered in the 19th century, held on to this piece until he sold his remarkable collection through New York Coin and Stamp (H.P. Smith and David Proskey) in June of 1890.

    Dealer Charles Steigerwalt purchased this coin at the Parmelee sale and it soon passed to Boston collector Dr. Thomas Hall, who retained it until his death in 1909. Hall's estate later sold his entire collection to super-collector Virgil Brand. Like Hall, Brand retained this coin throughout his lifetime. It passed to his brother Armin after his death in 1926. Mr. and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb were the next owners of this coin, following a deal brokered by Fort Worth coin dealer B. Max Mehl on January 11, 1937.

    The Norwebs formed one of the signature collections of the 20th century, which was sold in a series of blockbuster auctions through Bowers and Merena Galleries and Stack's from 1987 through 2006. This Small Pattern cent was described in lot 3393 of the Norweb Collection, Part III (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988). Michael Hodder was the cataloger and he noted the Judd-2 patterns were rarer than the Silver Center cents and this piece was "The finest available to collectors." The lot was purchased by Anthony Terranova, acting for Alan Weinberg. The coin has been a highlight of Alan's collection ever since.

    Alan Weinberg's Commentary:
    This specimen is the finest known in collector's hands, surpassed marginally by the Smithsonian coin. This was acquired through Tony Terranova directly out of the Norweb sale. Recent research by Rob Rodriguez reveals most, if not all, "Fusible Alloy" patterns have no silver content and are virtually pure copper. The Judd-2 Small Pattern cent is far rarer than the Judd-1 Silver Center cent (12 legitimate pieces known), as there are only four Judd-2s in "collectible condition."

    Physical Description

    The present coin is an attractive SP53 example of this rare early pattern issue, with pleasing olive-brown surfaces that show a few highlights of gray, blue and amber patina. Just a touch of wear shows on the well-detailed design elements, with fine definition still evident on Liberty's hair and the berries in the wreath. Both sides are well-centered, but the dentilation is weak on the lower obverse. The dentils are strong on the reverse all the way around, but longer on the top, and some slight rim damage shows at 4:30. Some parallel scribe lines (often seen on 1792 patterns) are evident on the bust and some minor signs of contact are seen in the right obverse field, but the surfaces are lightly abraded in most areas. A short, arcing scratch from the dentils to the left ribbon on the reverse can serve as a pedigree marker. The overall presentation is most attractive.

    This coin combines absolute rarity, intense historic interest, and the highest available technical quality in one irresistible package. For the discerning collector, there is no adequate substitute for this remarkable specimen. Off the market since 1988, this piece may not become available again in the collecting life of anyone reading this catalog. Prospective owners should bid accordingly.

    Roster of 1792 Small Pattern and Fusible Alloy Cents (Judd-2)

    This roster was expanded from information published in 1792: Birth of a Nation's Coinage, by Pete Smith, Joel J. Orosz, and Leonard Augsburger, the Newman Numismatic Portal, and USPatterns.com.
    1. MS63 Uncertified.
    A specimen in the National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution, inventory number 1985.0441.1898, formerly in the Mint Cabinet. Pictured on page 19 of The History of the National Numismatic Collections by Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli. Probably the finest known. The Adams-Woodin plate coin and the plate coin for Judd's United States Pattern Coins 1st through 7th editions. Tested March 24, 2016 -- nearly pure copper, with trace amounts of arsenic, iron, and nickel.
    2. SP53 PCGS Secure.
    Lorin G. Parmelee, purchased for $110 prior to 1886; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin and Stamp, 6/1890), lot 6, realized $37 to Charles Steigerwalt; Thomas Hall; Vigil Brand (Journal number 49986:446); Armin Brand; purchased by the Norwebs on January 11, 1937 via B. Max Mehl; Norweb Collection, Part III (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3393, realized $35,200; Alan Weinberg, via Anthony Terranova. Tested January 26, 2016 -- 99.44% copper, .28% arsenic, .06% nickel, .06% lead, .02% zirconium, and .12% bismuth. The present coin.
    3. XF40 NGC.
    J.N.T. Levick Collection (Edward Cogan, 12/1859), lot 220, realized $50 to Taylor, per a priced and named copy of the catalog in the library of Joel Orosz; Alfred B. Taylor Collection (Edward Cogan, 5/1860), lot 611, realized $30.50, to "King", possibly an alias for George Seavey (the coin is described as "the ONE CENT rather indistinct" which matches the Garrett coin); Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 841, not sold, as Lorin G. Parmelee purchased the collection intact; Lorin G. Parmelee; sold to Dr. Maris sometime before 1886, as related in correspondence between H.P. Newlin and T. Harrison Garrett dated June 30, 1886; Dr. Edward Maris Collection (Harlan Page Smith, 6/1886), lot 146, realized $67.50; T. Harrison Garrett; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 2348; Donald Groves Partrick; Partrick Collection (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 5503. Tested in 2014 -- 99.347% copper, .367% arsenic, .082% lead, .081% silver, .067% bismuth, .021% nickel, .003% antimony.
    4. SP35 PCGS Secure, CAC.
    Wolcott Family, possibly preserved by the family since 1792, surfaced at the 2004 ANA Convention; Anthony Terranova; Pre-Long Beach Auction (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2005), lot 806, realized $437,000; Donna Levin and Denis Loring; private sale to Heritage Auctions; Madison Collection (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3462, realized $603,750; Legend Numismatics; Bob Simpson Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2016), lot 5222; Robert L Rodriguez. Tested January 16, 2016 -- 99.29% copper, .34% arsenic, .09% silver, .05% iron, and .02% zirconium.
    5. VF Uncertified
    . Fewsmith Cabinet (Ebenezer Locke Mason, 10/1870), lot 1140, realized $41 to William Sumner Appleton; Massachusetts Historical Society via Appleton's bequest in 1905, cataloged in that collection in the 1920s but not traced since. The Crosby plate coin, Plate X, no. 22. Note: The Crosby plate is actually a picture of a plaster cast of the coin. We have not been able to visually match the plate to any other specimen in this roster, but it is possible that the low-quality image actually does represent one of the other coins listed here (thanks again to Pete Smith for this information).
    6. Fine 15 NGC, CAC.
    Loye Lauder Collection (William Doyle Galleries, 12/1983), lot 234; Dana Linett, sold for $15,000 in 1983; David Henderson; Rare Coin Review number 53, October 1984, listed for $24,750; Benson Collection Part I (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 2/2001), lot 151, realized $57,500; Old West and Franklinton Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/2006), lot 14, realized $218,500; Southern Collection; Simpson Collection; Laura Sperber; John Albanese; Al Pinkall/Gold Rarities; Chicago Signature (Heritage, 8/2011), lot 7728; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2012), lot 3401, realized $299,000; Rarities Night (Stack's Bowers, 8/2017), lot 2004. Tested in the holder in 2012, results indicate it contained 1% to 1.3% silver, but the 1.8% margin of error (due to interference from the holder) makes the results suspect.
    7. Good-VG Uncertified.
    Century Sale (Paramount, 4/1965), lot 50, realized $1,050; Rare Coin Review numbers 18, 19, and 20, offered at $14,950; later offered by Douglas Robbins, Inc. at $37,500, Coin World ad on December 4, 1974; Washington, D.C. Sale (Pine Tree Auctions, 2/1975), lot 59; American Numismatic Association. Tested June 16, 2016 -- pure copper.
    8. Good-VG Porous, Uncertified.
    Harmer-Rooke, private sale in November 1969; New Jersey private collection; William Anton Collection. In the Norweb catalog, Michael Hodder reported this coin was x-ray fluorescence tested -- found to be Fusible Alloy composition.
    9. Net Good, Genuine PCGS.
    John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5570; Waldo Newcomer; Major Lenox Lohr Collection; offered in the Empire Coin Company's fixed price list in 1961 at $3,750; River Oaks and Krugjohann Collections (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1976), lot 909; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 1/1987), lot 476; Denis Loring; returned to Stack's; Rarities Night Auction (Stack's Bowers, 8/2013), lot 4017, realized $70,500; Bill Rinehart.

    Other Citations
    A.
    George F. Seavey Collection (William Strobridge, 9/1863), lot 835, realized 50 cents, to Nixon. The price realized and description of this piece (... small size, fine copy) suggests it may not be genuine.
    B.
    Belknap-Martin Collection (Thomas Elder, 10/1908), lot 617, possibly the same as number 9 above, per Stack's.
    C.
    Michael Higgy-F.C.C. Boyd-ANS Specimen: Saul Teichman, Alan Weinberg, and John Dannreuther examined the ANS coin (ANS accession number 1956.163.25) that was included in the roster presented in our January 2012 (FUN Signature) catalog. This example exhibits a cracked obverse die and a plain edge, whereas other Judd-2s were struck with reeded edges. The ANS coin appears to be struck or cast from copy dies, using the Norweb-Weinberg coin (the specimen offered here) as a host. Many other copies of Judd-2 exist.
    From The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part I.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2949, PCGS# 11004)


    View all of [The Alan V. Weinberg Collection, Part I ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

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