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    1792 Silver Center Cent, Judd-1, MS61+ Brown
    Historic First Coinage on U.S. Mint Grounds
    The Bushnell-Parmelee-Green-Norweb Piece

    1792 P1C One Cent, Judd-1, Pollock-1, High R.6, MS61+ Brown NGC. The Silver Center cent has been an icon of American coinage for more than a century. Although some other pattern issues were struck earlier, in off-site facilities, the Silver Center cent was the first coin actually produced within the walls of the newly established United States Mint in 1792. It is probably the most famous of the important 1792 patterns (since the more numerous half dismes were actually circulation-strike pieces) and it always commands high premiums whenever an example is offered. The current price realized at auction for the issue is $1,410,000, garnered by the MS63+ Brown NGC specimen in Heritage Auctions' sale of the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IV, but that record is being bettered even as these words are being written, by the MS64 Brown PCGS Norweb coin in lot 5517 of the ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2014).

    The Silver Center cent has had an unprecedented run of successful auction appearances in recent years. Heritage has been uniquely fortunate, offering an example of this issue on six different occasions since 2012 (the Morris specimen in 4/2012, the Mickley piece in 8/2012, the Bushnell coin in 4/2013 and the present catalog, the Newman example in 5/2014, and the Norweb coin in the August 2014 ANA Signature, which is still being conducted as this is written). No other auction firm has ever handled so many examples of this remarkable pattern in such a short time frame. When Walter Breen described the Silver Center cent in the 1974 G.E.N.A. Sale for Pine Tree Rare Coin Auctions, he commented, "I didn't think I'd ever see (let alone catalogue) this coin!" The opportunity to study and compare so many specimens has enabled us to refine our knowledge of this issue and deepen our understanding of the process that resulted in the creation of these fabulous patterns and ultimately led to their rejection as circulating coins.

    Liberty faces right with hair flowing behind. The obverse periphery reads LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY, with 1792 just below the bust. The reverse has a wreath tied with a ribbon at the bottom; ONE CENT is within. Around the rim is UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with the fraction 1/100 below. Struck in copper with a silver plug in the center and a reeded edge. Medallic alignment. This coin was weighed and measured its precertification auction appearance in Stack's 65th Anniversary Sale. The weight was given at 72.8 grains, the diameter 22.5 millimeters.

    The Price of Copper and the Judd-1 Silver Center Cent
    As with any coinage proposal, the Judd-1 silver center cent has a complex genesis. One of the less-known roots of the issue is the economic activity of an unexpected country: Sweden. The northern kingdom held a near-monopoly on copper production in Europe thanks to the Stora Kopparberg or Great Copper Mountain mine, and it pushed production to finance its military and political aims. The kingdom began making copper riksdalers alongside silver coins of the same denomination in 1624, during the reign of Gustavus Adolphus the Great, which led a couple of decades later to the famous "plate money" that was used in the Swedish banking system until 1776 and today is popularly photographed on kitchen scales. The large size of Sweden's plate money points to copper's place as a valuable, but not the most valuable, commodity on the continent; while a Swedish silver riksdaler of the period was a crown-sized coin not particularly different in size or weight from its peers in other kingdoms, a copper one-riksdaler plate had significant size and bulk.

    In absolute terms, the weights assigned to the copper coins in the U.S. Mint Act of April 2, 1792 were not nearly so large as a piece of Swedish plate money. The cent was listed at 11 pennyweights (where a pennyweight refers to the weight of a British penny's worth of silver, 24 grains or 1/20th of a troy ounce) and the half cent at 5 ½ pennyweights, both on the determination of inaugural Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in his Report on the Subject of a Mint, the 1791 predecessor to the Mint Act. As with the gold and silver coinage listed in the Mint Act, Hamilton assigned the copper coins weights that represented full intrinsic value at the time, i.e. one cent's worth of copper in a one-cent coin. A bit of math reveals how Sweden's relentless production of copper had driven down the price of the commodity over a century and a half. An individual large cent at the Mint Act standard would weigh 264 grains, or more than half a troy ounce, on its own, and 100 such cent coins would have a collective weight of 1100 pennyweights, or 55 troy ounces! Even the one-riksdaler pieces of Swedish plate money were not so heavy.

    Alexander Hamilton took notice of the weighty problem posed by an intrinsic-par copper cent in his Report and examined silver as a solution:

    "With regard to the proposed size of the cent, it is to be confessed, that it is rather greater than might be wished, if it could with propriety and safety be made less: And should the value of copper continue to decline, as it has done for sometime past, it is very questionable, whether it will long remain alone a fit metal for money. This has led to a consideration of the expediency of uniting a small portion of silver with the copper in order to ... lessen the bulk of the inferior coins..."

    Hamilton, however, stopped short of endorsing a billon coin in the manner of France, pointing out in his 1791 Report that the appearance of a small level of silver in a large amount of copper could be imitated cheaply by counterfeiters.

    Despite the obvious differences in appearance between the cent patterns of 1792 -- the silver-centered and obviously bimetallic Judd-1, the "fusible alloy" Judd-2 at an identical size with the same obverse and reverse designs, and the Judd-3 through Judd-5 Birch cents in pure copper -- all illustrated either the problem posed by the Hamiltonian intrinsic-value cent standard or a solution thereto. The difference in size between the Birch cents and the silver-center and fusible alloy pieces is startling, as seen by the to-scale images in references such as the Guide Book and Judd's United States Pattern Coins.

    While Alexander Hamilton cited the possibility of a "billon" cent, which has common cause with the Judd-2 pattern's fusible alloy, the immediate inspiration for the silver center on the Judd-1 patterns appears to have come from the U.S. Mint's Chief Coiner, Henry Voigt. A letter from then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to President George Washington regarding the pattern cent coinage includes the following paragraph, describing the activities of Voigt and Director of the Mint David Rittenhouse, which is much-reprinted in the literature on the 1792 cent patterns but always worth a reread when considering one of these rarities:

    "Th. Jefferson has the honor to send the President two cents made on Voigt's plan by putting a silver plug worth 3/4 of a cent into a copper worth 1/4 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."

    This letter, of course, is of paramount importance in fixing the sequence of late-1792 pattern one cent coinage at the U.S. Mint and securing the Judd-1 silver center cent's place in history.

    While the Judd-1 silver center cent became the first in a long line of unadopted prototype coins produced on U.S. Mint grounds, this is not to say that the idea was ill-considered. The work Voigt and Rittenhouse put into the 1792 pattern cent coinage was instrumental in convincing Congress to amend the Mint Act in January 1793, which reduced the statutory weight of the copper large cent from 264 grains to 208 grains. The resulting Chain cents, while still much thicker and heavier than the Judd-1 and Judd-2 patterns, were of a more reasonable diameter (26 to 27 millimeters) than the Judd-3 to Judd-5 Birch cents.

    The Bushnell-Parmelee Specimen
    The present coin made its first appearance on the numismatic scene as early as April of 1863, when it was described in lot 1075 of Edward Cogan's Sale of American Silver and Copper Coins and Medals. According to the title page, the coins in the sale were actually owned by Cogan himself, an auspicious start to the pedigree of this coin, which includes the names of more celebrated collectors than that of any other specimen (see roster below). This piece was a highlight of many great 19th century collections, bringing acclaim to such well-known collectors as Charles Ira Bushnell, Lorin G. Parmelee, and H.P. Smith. After the turn of the century, this coin was acquired by George Earle, whose collection was "One of the great collections: balanced strength in ancients, European and U.S. Rarities and high condition," according to John Adams. B. Max Mehl sold the present coin in his sale of the Will Neil Collection in 1947, and outlined its history after the Earle Sale:

    "... I doubt if this coin has ever been in circulation, as it has considerable mint luster and only the highest portions show slight cabinet friction. Excessively rare. Only about eight specimens were minted. This particular specimen has an unusually interesting as well as valuable pedigree. It originally came from the great Earle Collection. At the Earle Sale it was purchased by the eminent numismatist, Mr. Wurtzbach of Massachusetts, who in turn sold it to the great Chicago collector Virgil Brand. From the Brand Collection it went to the Belden Roach Collection of New York, and when I had the pleasure of selling the Roach Collection in 1944, Mr. Neil was the successful buyer. It brought $525.00. But it is certainly worth much more today, considering its rarity, beautiful condition, and outstanding pedigree, and last but not least, the tremendous increase in value of all these greater rarities."

    This coin was later owned by a succession of numismatic giants that includes the Norwebs and Robert Simpson, truly one of the most illustrious pedigrees in all U.S. numismatics.

    Mehl's reference to some "slight cabinet friction" is probably just some striking flatness on Liberty's cheek, which remains lustrous and shows only a few minor signs of contact on the cheekbone. The copper bulk of the piece is rich brown with just a hint of reddish-violet color, while the small silver plug, larger and rounder in appearance on the obverse as always, is medium-gray with a hint of steel. Under magnification a number of small faults appear, including a shallow pinscratch that falls away from the tip of Liberty's nose, but the plain line on Liberty's neck southeast of the silver plug appears to be a planchet flaw rather than a post-striking defect. A small dot of deep toning on the rim near the Y in LIBERTY on the obverse may serve as a future pedigree marker. The overall presentation is most attractive.

    Historically important and genuinely rare, the Judd-1 silver center cents have a remarkable story and distinctive eye appeal. This example has been appreciated by many famous owners, including Charles Ira Bushnell, Lorin G. Parmelee, Virgil Brand, Colonel E.H.R. Green, and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb. The next owner of this remarkable and high-end piece will join their esteemed collecting company.

    1792 Silver Center Cent Roster
    The following roster was expanded from earlier work by Scott Rubin, Saul
    Teichman, and Mark Borckardt with the important assistance of Wayne Burt, Stuart Levine, Pete Smith and Joel Orosz.
    1. Garrett Specimen, MS67 Brown PCGS. Peter Gschwend Collection (Thomas L. Elder, 6/1908), lot 116; Henry Chapman; James W. Ellsworth; purchased by Wayte Raymond and John Work Garrett via Knoedler Galleries in May of 1923; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection, Part II (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 234; Joel Perlin; Robert Simpson Collection.
    2. Norweb Specimen, MS64 Brown. R.C.H. Brock Collection; University of Pennsylvania; Philip H. Ward; Charles Dochus; Harry Forman; New Netherlands Coin Company; purchased by the Norwebs on 3/14/1958; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3392; Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/2002), lot 724; Ed Milas; Marvin Browder; purchased for $2.5 million and subsequently resold in 2011 by Stuart Levine, Joe O'Conner, and Anthony Terranova; Oliver Jung; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2014), lot 5517. Pollock plate coin.
    3. Newman Specimen, MS63+ Brown NGC. F.C.C. Boyd; Eric P. Newman; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society; Selections From the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IV (Heritage, 5/2014), lot 30426; realized $1,410,000.
    4. Bushnell Specimen, MS61+ Brown NGC. Possibly Edward Cogan Collection (Edward Cogan, 4/1863), lot 1075, per New Netherlands catalog of 12/1958; Charles Ira Bushnell (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1882), lot 1766; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 5; Harlan Page Smith (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 1315; George H. Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2179; Carl Wurtzbach; Virgil M. Brand; Col. E.H.R. Green; Belden Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 3111; Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 1794; Stockmayer Collection (Stack's, 7/1952), lot 174; Mrs. R. Henry Norweb; Landau Sale (New Netherlands, 12/1958), lot 104; Corrado Romano Collection (Stack's, 6/1987), lot 143; Jay Parrino FPL; Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/1999), lot 143; 65th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2000), lot 56; Southern Collection; Simpson Collection; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2013), lot 4113, realized $822,000. The present coin. The 1914 ANS Exhibition plate coin; Standard Catalog plate coin; former Guide Book plate coin. The October 2000 Stack's catalog cites an appearance in "Stack's sale of January 3, 1952," but there was no such sale. Scott Rubin suggests this might be a misprint for the Stack's 7/1952 sale listed in the pedigree above.
    5. Morris Specimen, MS61 Brown PCGS. Charles Morris (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1905), lot 361; James O. Sloss; William Mitkoff; Great Eastern Numismatic Association Sale (Pine Tree, 9/1974), lot 1272a; William T. Anton; private collection; Liberty Collection (Heritage, 4/2012), lot 5403, realized $1,150,000; Kevin Lipton and Anthony Terranova; Cardinal Foundation. Breen Encyclopedia plate coin; former Guide Book plate coin. We believe this specimen is earlier from William J. Jenks Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 9/1880), lot 1383; A. Dohrmann Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1882), lot 437; Lady of Western New York Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 2/1887), lot 816.
    6. Weinberg Specimen, Mint State. Thomas Warner (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1884), lot 3215; Richard B. Winsor (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1895), lot 291; Loye Lauder (William Doyle Galleries, 12/1983), lot 233; Alan Weinberg.
    7. Smithsonian Specimen, AU. Robert Coulton Davis (New York Coin & Stamp, 1/1890), lot 1008a; John Story Jenks (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5569; Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; Lenox R. Lohr; Empire Coin (1961 FPL); River Oaks Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1976), lot 908; New England Rare Coin Gallery; private sale; Robert Hughes; private collection; Smithsonian Institution. Judd plate coin for the ninth and 10th editions; current Guide Book plate coin.
    8. Stearns Specimen, XF. C.H. Stearns Collection (Mayflower, 12/1966), lot 280; Lester Merkin; Donald Groves Partrick; private Eastern collection.
    9. Judd Specimen, XF. Hersch, Levick, Farrell Collections (Thomas Elder, 10/1907), lot 1732; later, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; Illustrated History (A. Kosoff, 1962), lot 19; Julian Leidman; Eastern Collector. The original Judd plate coin.
    10. Queller Specimen, VF30 NGC. Joseph J. Mickley (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 2135; Colonel Mendes I. Cohen (Bangs, Merwin & Co. for Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 380; William Sumner Appleton; later, Virgil Brand; Brand-Lichtenfels Collections (Abner Kreisberg and Hans M.F. Schulman, 3/1964), lot 1106; Gibson Collection (Stack's, 11/1974), lot 14; John L. Roper (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 425; Stuart Levine and Anthony Terranova; Bertram Cohen; San Diego Show (Dana Linett, 10/1988), lot 9; Denis Loring; Stack's, privately; David Queller (Lemus Collection); Queller Family Collection (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 1500; offered at fixed prices by Heritage in 2010 and 2011; Philadelphia Signature (Heritage, 8/2012), lot 5015.
    11. Terranova Specimen, VF. Nigel Willmott; Glendining's Sale (1997); Anthony Terranova; TeleTrade; Larry Stack; Martin Ohgigian; Ohgigian Estate.
    12. Starr Specimen, Fine 15 PCGS. George Seavey; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 842; Lorin G. Parmelee; Virgil M. Brand (Brand Journal number 20765); Armin Brand, per his notebook; 311th Sale (J.C. Morgenthau, 10/1933), lot 78; Floyd Starr; Starr Collection (Stack's, 10/1992), lot 3; Jay Parrino, offered in several fixed price lists in the mid-1990s; unknown dealer intermediaries; Stuart Levine in 2004; purchased by Ed Price on 5/14/2004; Stuart Levine again in 2006; Old West and Franklinton Collections (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/2006), lot 13.
    13. California Specimen, VG10 Details, Scratched ANACS. A Northern California collector purchased this piece for $400 in 2006. The coin was offered at a police department auction of unclaimed property. Reported in Coin World, January 5, 2009.
    14. Unplugged Specimen, SP63 PCGS. Silvano DiGenova and Stuart Levine; Anthony Terranova, 1993; Stack's (3/1995), lot 1400; Donald Groves Partrick Collection. Former Guide Book plate coin. The coin does not have a silver insert and may have been a trial striking before making the silver center pieces. In his 1984 provenance study, Scott Rubin mentions Thomas Elder's sale of October 1926, lot 1436, where a piece was described as: "1792. Pattern for Silver Centre Cent (freak)." That listing might represent an early appearance of this piece.

    Additional Auction Appearances
    With a single exception, none of the following were plated, and no further information in the catalog descriptions provided help determining provenance.

    John K. Wiggin Collection (Edward Cogan, 3/1862), lot 747.
    Finotti Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 11/1862), lot 1528.
    Benjamin Haines Collection (Bangs, Merwin & Co., 1/1863), lot 780.
    Heman Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), lot 444.
    Matthews Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 12/1885), lot 2120.
    Woodside Collection (New York Coin and Stamp Co., 4/1892), lot 1. The Silver Center cent is plated (obverse only) and its appearance is bizarre, unlike anything else that we have seen. It is almost certainly a false piece.
    H.G. Brown Collection (Lyman H. Low, 10/1904), lot 209.
    Poillon, Lee, and Ralston Collections (Thomas L. Elder, 10/1926), lot 1436.
    Lenz, Sloane, and Chapman Collections (Thomas Elder, 1/1936), lot 2968.
    1941 ANA Sale (Ira Reed, 8/1941), lot 77.
    12th Sale (Celina Coin Co., 2/1945), lot 2022.
    Ohio State Numismatic Society Convention Sale (Celina Coin Co., 10/1949), lot 591.

    Other Reported Appearances
    Judson Brenner exhibited a Silver Center cent at the 1916 ANA Convention.
    B. Max Mehl advertised an example as part of the Fred Joy Collection (which he had just acquired) on page 599 of the November 1925 issue of The Numismatist.

    Chronological Auction Records
    The Silver Center cent has appeared at auction 63 times in the last 152 years, including the present offering. Heritage has handled the issue seven times since 2009.
    John K. Wiggin Collection (Edward Cogan, 3/1862), lot 747.
    Finotti Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 11/1862), lot 1528.
    Benjamin Haines Sale (Bangs, Merwin & Co., 1/1863), lot 780.
    Edward Cogan Collection (Cogan, 4/1863), lot 1075
    Joseph J. Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 2135
    George Seavey Collection (1873 FPL)
    Col. Mendes I. Cohen (Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 380
    William J. Jenks Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 9/1880), lot 1383
    A. Dohrmann Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1882), lot 437
    Charles I. Bushnell Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1882), lot 1766
    Heman Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), lot 444
    Thomas Warner Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1884), lot 3215
    Matthews Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 12/1885), lot 2120
    Lady of Western New York (W. Elliot Woodward, 2/1887), lot 816
    Robert Coulton Davis (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 1/1890), lot 1008a
    Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp Co., 6/1890), lot 5
    Woodside Collection (New York Coin and Stamp Co., 4/1892), lot 1
    Richard B. Winsor Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1895), lot 291
    H.G. Brown Collection (Lyman H. Low, 10/1904), lot 209
    Charles Morris Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1905), lot 361
    Harlan P. Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 1315
    Hersch, Levick, and Farrell Collections (Thomas Elder, 10/1907), lot 1732
    Peter Gschwend Collection (Thomas L. Elder, 6/1908), lot 116
    George H. Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2179
    John Story Jenks Collection (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5569
    Poillon, Lee, and Ralston Collections (Thomas L. Elder, 10/1926), lot 1436
    J.C. Morgenthau & Co. (311th Sale, 10/1933), lot 78
    Lenz, Sloane, and Chapman Collections (Thomas Elder, 1/1936), lot 2968
    1941 ANA Sale (Ira Reed, 8/1941), lot 77
    Belden E. Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 3111
    12th Sale (Celina Coin Co., 2/1945), lot 2022
    Will W. Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 1794
    Ohio State Numismatic Society Convention Sale (Celina Coin Co., 10/1949), lot 591
    Stockmayer Collection (Stack's, 7/1952), lot 174
    Elliot Landau Collection (New Netherlands, 12/1958), lot 104
    Empire Coin (1961 Lohr FPL)
    Illustrated History (A. Kosoff, 1962 FPL), lot 19
    Brand-Lichtenfels (Kreisberg and Schulman, 3/1964), lot 1106
    C.H. Stearns Collection (Mayflower, 12/1966), lot 280
    GENA Convention Sale (Pine Tree, 9/1974), lot 1272a
    Gibson Collection (Stack's, 11/1974), lot 14
    River Oaks Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1976), lot 908
    Garrett Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 2347
    Loye Lauder Collection (William Doyle Galleries, 12/1983), lot 233
    John L. Roper, 2nd Collection (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 425
    Corrado Romano Estate (Stack's, 6/1987), lot 143
    San Diego Show (Dana Linett, 10/1988), lot 9
    Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3392
    Floyd Starr Collection (Stack's, 10/1992), lot 3
    James A. Stack, Sr. Collection (Stack's, 3/1995), lot 1400
    The Mint (Jay Parrino) FPL's 1995 and 1996
    Glendining's Sale 1997
    Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/1999), lot 143
    65th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2000), lot 56
    Americana Sale (Stack's, 1/2002), lot 724
    Old West and Franklinton Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/2006), lot 13
    Queller Collection (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 1500
    Liberty Collection (Heritage, 4/2012), lot 5403
    Philadelphia Signature (Heritage, 8/2012), lot 5015
    Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2013), lot 4113
    Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IV (Heritage, 5/2014), lot 30426
    ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2014), lot 5517
    The present sale.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 2948, PCGS# 11001)

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2014
    4th-6th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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