Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    1792 Silver Center Cent, Judd-1, XF45+
    United States' First Bimetallic Coin

    1792 P1C One Cent, Judd-1, Pollock-1 XF45+ NGC. CAC. 67.9 grains. This Silver Center cent begins an unprecedented offering of 1792 pattern coinage. The Partrick collection comprises 12 specimens of that year, exceeding by three the closest competitors. The Act establishing the Mint passed on April 2, 1792, and considerable experimentation with multiple aspects of coining continued for the remainder of that year. The Partrick group details this process more fully than any other previous or existing collection. Bimetallism was one of these early experiments, embodied in the Judd-1 Silver Center cent, which is known to the extent of 14 examples. Appearances of any 1792 patterns demand attention, and even more so when a piece exhibits the quality seen on this choice XF45+ example.

    Design
    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 insert in the center and a reeded edge. Medallic die alignment.

    Sets of 1792 Coinage
    Section 10 of the Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, reads in part "That, upon the said coins respectively, there shall be the following devices and legends....and the year of the coinage." The inclusion of the date places the coin within a historical context and invites a chronological connection with the collector. Birth year coins are ever popular as gifts and have launched many a collector on their journey. The American Journal of Numismatics in 1878 wrote of the collector Joseph Mickley, "He was about seventeen years old (say in 1816) when he formed a wish to own a cent, coined in the year of his nativity. He had hard work to find one, as you can readily understand. A good cent of 1799 now brings many dollars." Similarly, other collectors have focused on a single date, not necessarily of their birth year, but for other reasons. Harry X Boosel was fascinated with the wide array of coinage of 1873, and formed a substantial collection that was sold at auction by RARCOA in 1972. John Whitney Walter's collection of 1796 coinage, sold in 1999, extended the concept with the inclusion of the numerous die varieties of that year. "First year of issue" is a similar theme for type collectors, who might form a collection consisting of a 1793 cent, 1796 dime, 1796 quarter eagle, and so on.

    Aside from obvious "stopper" years represented by extreme rarities (the 1804 dollar, the 1885 trade dollar, the 1913 Liberty nickel), 1792 represents the stiffest challenge for collectors of United States coinage by year. The most accessible entry coin, the 1792 silver half disme (Judd-7), is by itself a prized rarity that would be the centerpiece of many collections. From there the pursuit becomes considerably more difficult, requiring not only financial capability but also opportunity. Donald G. Partrick accordingly pursued the 1792 coinage for a long period of time, purchasing from auctions and private collections as each rarity became available.

    As a result, the present selection of 1792 coinage is unparalleled. Most other collections of 1792s are defined by what is included - perhaps a silver half disme, a copper disme, or a low-grade cent. The Partrick collection, unlike any other, is better defined by what is not included. The consignor aimed for completeness by Judd variety, and, viewed in that light, only three pieces are absent - the plain edge Birch cent (Judd-3), the G?W.PT. Birch cent (Judd-6), and the silver half disme (Judd-7). Of these three, one is unique (Judd-6) and one is represented by two known (Judd-3). Even beyond the Judd varieties, this collection includes the thick-flan silver disme and the unique Sans Silver Center cent, which are not specifically listed in that reference as separate varieties. No other collection compares. Besting the finest private cabinets by three coins, and the Smithsonian's National Numismatic Collection by five, the current assemblage of 1792 coinage surpasses all previous attempts and rightly claims title to the ultimate date set of United States coinage. The accompanying table summarizes the most important collections of 1792 coinage.

    Early American Views of Bimetallic Coinage
    The legislative development of the United States' Mint took root in the 1780s within the Continental Congress. On July 6, 1785, Congress named the dollar as the official "money unit of the United States of America." More important, Congress mandated a "decimal ratio," a progressive idea for the time, and likely influenced by Thomas Jefferson, who sought to unite the young country's system of weights, measures, and coinage. While unsuccessful with respect to weights and measures, as the United States retained the British standards, the infant republic was able to throw off the burden of pounds, shillings, and pence, thereby simplifying monetary calculations for all time. Congress next approached the subject on August 8, 1786 when it mandated coinage standards including denomination and fineness. With the dissolution of the Continental Congress in 1789, these old proposals faded away and the discussion began anew with the advent of the first United States Congress on March 4, 1789, which now operated under the newly approved Constitution.

    Coinage was a topic that invited many ideas but little action. Proposing a series of denominations or ideal ratios for gold and silver was easy on paper; actually building a Mint and engaging the requisite equipment and technicians proved considerably more arduous. That did not stop people from weighing in. In 1785 William Barton (nephew of the eventual first Mint Director David Rittenhouse) "humbly submitted to Congress" a plan which proposed free coinage of gold and silver, to be financed by the seigniorage on copper. The plan was wonderful on paper, but in practice the procurement of sufficient copper was problematic. Another offering his viewpoint was the popular patriot Thomas Paine. (His pamphlet Common Sense (1776) sold half a million copies, an extraordinary number for a country of several million.) Paine offered his thoughts on bimetallic coinage in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on September 28, 1790:

    "The metal convenient for a coin under the silver coin, should not differ more in its value from silver than silver does from gold-and if it differed still less it would be better; but as the relative values now stand, the difference increases where convenience requires it should decrease. But as no such a metal, which convenience requires, exists naturally, the question is whether it will answer to produce it by composition.

    "Of compositions, three methods present themselves-1st. Mixing silver and copper in fusion-2d. Plating the copper with silver-3d. Plugging the copper with silver. But against all these there are very capital objections. Wherever there is a want of satisfaction there must necessarily be a want of confidence; and this must always take place in all compounded metals. There is also a decrease in the intrinsic value of metals when compounded; one shilling worth of silver compounded with one shilling worth of copper, the composition is not worth two shillings, or what the metals were worth before they were compounded, because they must again be separated to acquire their utmost value, and this only can be done at a refiner's [sic]. It is not what the coin cost to make, but what the coin is intrinsically worth when made; that only can give it currency in all cases. Plugging copper with silver is the least detrimental to the intrinsic value of the metals, because they are the easiest separated; but in all these cases the value of the silver put into the composition will be so predominant to the value of the copper, that it will be rather a base silver coin than a copper coin."



    While Paine considered the idea of bimetallic coppers, the real answer, he thought, was to introduce a lower denomination of silver coin. The lowest silver denomination in the Continental Congress resolution of August 8, 1786 had been a dime. In his letter to Jefferson, Paine suggested an extension to the half dime:
    <
    R"In England, the lowest silver coin is six-pence, which is equal to twelve coppers, and therefore the recourse to coppers for change, or for the purchase of small articles under the value of six-pence is frequently recurring; but if in America we were to coin silver as low as the twentieth part of a dollar, which would be pieces of five cents, the occasion for coppers would be very much diminished, and such pieces would be nearly of the size of the French silver six sous. I think the policy is in favor of keeping as much silver coin as we can in the country; and this is one of my motives for excluding copper as much as possible. Some denomination under the five cent pieces would still be necessary-but as the occasions would be diminished, a small quantity would be sufficient."


    Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, next approached the subject of bimetallic coinage in his masterful report to Congress on January 28, 1791:

    "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 some time 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 proportion of silver with the copper, in order to be able to lessen the bulk of the inferior coins. For this, there are precedents in several parts of Europe. In France, the composition, which is called billon, has consisted of one part silver and four parts Copper; according to which proportion a Cent might contain seventeen grains; defraying out of the material the expense of coinage. The convenience of size is a recommendation of such a species of coin, but the Secretary is deterred from proposing it by the apprehension of Counterfeits. The effect of so small a quantity of silver, in, comparatively, so large a quantity of Copper, could easily be imitated by a mixture of other metals of little value, and the temptation to doing it would not be inconsiderable."


    Hamilton's essay neatly summarizes the essential problem - the size of the Cent as legislated was heavy and awkward, but alloying with silver invited counterfeits. With these thoughts in mind, the Mint went to work.

    The Silver Center Cent
    Among the 1792 patterns, the Judd-1 Silver Center cent is one of the best documented. Henry Voigt's second account book, which covered the period from October 12 to December 31, 1792, contains the first mention of the coin. While the whereabouts of the Voigt volume are currently unknown, Frank Stewart made extracts in 1921 for his landmark History of the First United States Mint (1924). On December 17, the coiner Voigt (who was not appointed "Chief Coiner" until January 29 of the following year) wrote in the account book "struck off a few pieces of copper coin." As Voigt normally used the account book to record expenditures, the addition of this comment indicates that he considered the occasion noteworthy. The following day, Thomas Jefferson sent two Silver Center cents to George Washington:

    "Th: Jefferson has the honor to send the President 2 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. Specimens of these several ways of making the cent will be delivered to the Committee of Congress now having that subject before them."



    "Voigt's plan" seemingly satisfied Hamilton's concerns voiced almost two years previous. It reduced the weight of the coin while not alloying the copper and silver. The Baltimore Evening Post commented on December 28, 1792:

    "It is proposed by some persons connected with the mint of the United States, in order to make the real value of the copper coinage equal to the nominal, and at the same time, reduce the piece to a convenient size to introduce a silver stud of a certain size in the coin, thro' a hole in its centre, and after this operation to coin it so that the silver should bear part of the impression. The idea is certainly ingenious, and the improvement it is said, is not difficult of execution, nor does it increase the labour in any material degree.

    "One objection to this mode of coining, strikes at first view; whether it might not be a temptation to counterfeit, by coining with studs of base white metal. Perhaps, however, the silver saved in this way may not equal the expense of coining, and then the objection falls to the ground."


    Although the insertion of the silver plug was claimed to be "not difficult of execution," the practical reality was that each individual cent planchet required additional processing. Congress took matters into its own hands and solved the problem with the Act of January 14, 1793, which decreased the weight of the large cent from 264 to 208 grains. The Act debased the copper coinage but provided financial relief to the Mint in the form of increased seigniorage on the copper cents and half cents.

    Physical Appearance
    This Choice XF+ coin is a pleasing specimen of the 18th century Mint. Smooth obverse surfaces surround a well detailed figure of Liberty. The plug is cleanly inserted and the design flows seamlessly between the copper and silver. A few minor marks surround the all-important 1792 date. The strike is slightly off-center and the dentils present more prominently on the upper and right portions. As the dies are medal aligned, the reverse exhibits the same effect with extended dentils on the upper and left sides. The reverse is minimally marked as expected for the grade. The coin is an even brown and gray throughout, and would be most desirable even as a specimen of a later date large cent.

    1792 Silver Center Cent Roster
    The following roster was expanded from earlier work by Scott Rubin, Saul Teichman, Mark Borckardt, and David Stone with the important assistance of Wayne Burt, Stuart Levine, Pete Smith and Joel Orosz.

    1. 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 IV (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 2347; Joel Perlin; Bob Simpson Collection.
    2. 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'Connor, and Anthony Terranova; Oliver Jung; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2014), lot 5517. Pollock plate coin.
    3. MS63+ Brown NGC. F.C.C. Boyd; Eric P. Newman (Newman traded the Clinton cent from the Theodore Grand collection for this piece in 1951); 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. 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; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 9/2014), lot 3007, realized $705,000. 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. 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. 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. Featured on the front cover of Joel Orosz and Leonard Augsburger's Secret History of the First United States Mint (2011).
    7. 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. XF45+ NGC. Bernard Gimelson (5/15/1968); sold for $9,400 to Donald Groves Partrick. The present specimen. Bruce Gimelson, son of Bernard, related that this example was found by a contractor from Doylestown, PA. During a building renovation, a jar of coins was discovered in a wall. Bruce recalled the moment: "My father emptied the jar on his desk and there it was - a Silver Center cent in super condition."
    9. XF. C.H. Stearns Collection (Mayflower, 12/1966), lot 280; Lester Merkin; Henry P. Kendall.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. VF. Nigel Willmott; Glendining's Sale (1997); Stu Levine and Anthony Terranova; Larry Stack; Martin Ohgigian; Ohgigian Estate.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.

    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.
    John W. Haseltine (10/1872), lot 434.
    George Massamore (11/1883), lot 579 as Uncirculated.
    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.

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


    View all of [The Partrick Collection ]

    View Certification Details from NGC

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 26
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,303

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold on Jan 12, 2015 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 40 days left to consign to the 2021 August 12 - 13 ANA WFOM World Coins Signature Auction - Dallas!

    Learn about consigning with us

    When it came to selling my coin collection I decided they were my first and only choice. They never disappoint. Excellent prices when selling through their auctions and you don’t even have to put any reserves on any coins. Simply the biggest company but more importantly the best. Consign with Heritage when you're ready to sell.
    Albert A.,
    Brooklyn, NY
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search