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    1792 Copper Disme, Judd-11, MS64 Red and Brown
    Finest of Three Known

    1792 P10C Copper Disme, Judd-11, Pollock-12 MS64 Red and Brown NGC. CAC. 61.5 grains, plain edge. Once again, the Partrick collection of 1792 patterns combines rarity with the highest quality. The Mint experimented with reeded and plain edges on the dismes of this year, and the plain edge pieces are considerably scarcer, with only three pieces known. Of the three, the Partrick piece is the finest.

    The 1792 Disme Design
    As the Mint experimented with various depictions of Liberty (see previous lot), the design of the reverse eagle also came under consideration. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 called for "the figure or representation of an eagle" on the reverse of the gold and silver coins. The choice of the eagle was not a nod to some longstanding American tradition. Ubiquitous today, it is hard to imagine a time when it was not so, but in fact the eagle as a symbol of American fortitude emerged only during the Revolutionary War. Other symbols appeared here and there, ironically including a buffalo, which ultimately found a home many years later on the reverse of the Buffalo nickel. The beaver gained certain traction and appeared on the $6 Colonial Currency issue of July 22, 1776. The original seal of the city of New York also incorporated the beaver, although in this context its meaning was more economic than political.

    The Continental Congress put its imprimatur on the eagle as a national symbol with the adoption of the Great Seal in 1782. Numismatists can claim part of the creation, for one of their own, Pierre Eugène Du Simitière, contributed to the design of the Great Seal. Du Simitière, portraitist and museum proprietor in Philadelphia, formed one of the earliest known coin collections in America. A partial inventory survives and demonstrates that the artist made perhaps the first attempt in America to devise a classification scheme for numismatic objects. Du Simitière contemplated publication of an overall guide to American numismatics, a plan cut short by his death in 1784. Such a work might have done much to preserve coinage of that period, but collectors would have to wait for the efforts of John H. Hickcox (1858), Montroville W. Dickeson (1859), and Sylvester S. Crosby (1875).

    Benjamin Franklin was famously opposed to the eagle and expressed as much in a 1784 letter to his daughter Sarah Bache:

    "For my own part, I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly; you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk; and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him, and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district...

    "I am, on this account, not displeased that the figure is not known as a bald eagle, but looks more like a turkey. For in truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America. Eagles have been found in all countries, but the turkey was peculiar to ours; the first of the species seen in Europe, being brought to France by the Jesuits from Canada, and served up at the wedding table of Charles the Ninth. He is, besides (though a little vain and silly, it is true, but not the worse emblem for that), a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on."

    Franklin, writing from France, favored the turkey, but the eagle resonated with the American public. Here was a fierce symbol reminiscent of the revolutionary rattlesnake. The eagle of the Great Seal carried an olive branch, willing to make peace but prepared for retaliation if provoked. The message to the world was clear. But while the American population coalesced around the eagle, the Mint failed to convey the same meaning in the execution of the half disme. Here was a feeble creature, fluttering about and struggling to get off the ground. The engraver of the disme improved the situation, and this serves to place the disme in sequence following the half disme. The disme's reverse eagle flies steadily and exhibits a stronger head than the blunt-beaked bird of the half disme. The best strikes, such as the present coin, present a lean and muscular body.

    While the disme improved the situation, the eagle of the Eagle-on-Globe quarter dollar was more influential with respect to subsequent coinage. Silver coinage, beginning in 1794, adopted Joseph Wright's standing eagle with outstretched wings, surrounded by a wreath. The gold coinage, starting in 1795, also employed the standing eagle and wreath, but the 1796 quarter eagle adopted a design clearly derived from the Great Seal. The eagle and shield devices dominated the gold and silver coinage of the 19th century, and thus the roots of this coinage actually predate the coinage experiments of 1792.

    Roster of the 1792 Plain Edge Copper Dismes (Judd-11)
    1. MS64 Red and Brown NGC. 61.5 grains. Mint Cabinet, Dr. Edward Maris (H. P. Smith, 6/1886), lot 147, realized $67.50; The Garrett Collection Part IV (Bowers and Merena, 3/1981), lot 2353, realized $45,000; Donald Groves Partrick the present coin.
    2. MS61 Brown NGC. Lenox Lohr (Empire Coin Company FPL, c. 1961), offered at $9,750; Hazen B. Hinman (Paramount Century, 4/1965), lot 52, realized $3,200; John L. Roper, 2nd (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 429, realized $19,800; Anthony Terranova and Stuart Levine; Bertram Cohen; Dana Linett (San Diego Show, 10/1988), lot 12, realized $41,250; 70th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2005), lot 1378, did not sell; southern collection; Bob Simpson.
    3. PCGS Genuine. 58.2 grains. Pre-Long Beach Sale (Goldberg's, 2/2005), lot 805, realized $55,200; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2008), lot 2301, not sold; Peter Cabral. The coin is uncirculated but exhibits severe obverse cuts. The Goldberg's description speculated these were cancellation marks.

    Physical Appearance
    The visually arresting strike nicely showcases the intentions of the engraver. Liberty's hair exhibits strong detail even between the primary strands, and the eagle's breast presents fully outlined feathers, a perennial stumbling block on much of the 18th century United States coinage. The two-tone obverse reveals lighter areas below the portrait truncation and within the lettering PARENT OF to the left. There is some softness on the tops of the letters to the right. The die alignment is 30 degrees (near medal alignment). The reverse eagle flies to the left but glances back to the right, ever on guard and ready to strike. The reverse exhibits even, medium brown toning with olive highlights found in the lettering about the periphery.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 11030)

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 32
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,045

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    We also followed the bidding online yesterday here in Salt Lake for the other 3 coins - great fun. Prices realized met or exceeded our expectations.
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    Salt Lake City, UT
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