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    Description

    1792 Silver Center Cent, Judd-1a, MS62 Red and Brown
    Unique Sans Silver Example

    1792 P1C One Cent, Judd-1a, Pollock-1a, MS62 Red and Brown NGC. 72.3 grains. Numismatics constantly offers new discoveries, and part of the excitement is that no one knows when or how they will arrive. The first Mint of the United States still has secrets to reveal, even two hundred years after its founding. This unique Sans Silver example of the Silver Center cent first came to light in 1993. It was discovered by Sil DiGenova, Stuart Levine, and Anthony Terranova, before making its initial public appearance at auction in 1995. Twenty years later, the present sale marks only the second auction appearance of this unique coin.

    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 without a plug in the center.

    The Frank H. Stewart Silver Center Cent Planchets
    In 1907, the electrical supply dealer Frank H. Stewart purchased the first United States Mint property at 37 and 39 N. Seventh Street in downtown Philadelphia. Stewart had been operating out of the adjacent space at 35 N. Seventh since the 1890s, and the availability of the neighboring parcel was fortuitous, coming just as Stewart's business blossomed and required a larger footprint. More fortunate for numismatics was the fact that Stewart immediately grasped the history of the moment. And, while the inexorable growth of the electrical business demanded physical changes to the property, Stewart attempted to preserve what history could be unearthed on the site. Although he failed to save the actual buildings, which were offered to the City of Philadelphia without success, he did preserve and document coins and relics.

    The site had been unused as a Mint since 1833, but Stewart approached the demolition with the expectation of finding something. He even dreamt of discovering an 1804 dollar; capturing Stewart's imagination was the Stickney example, sold in Philadelphia in June 1907 for $3,600. Of course, at this time it was not understood that the 1804 dollar had actually been struck in the second Mint (1834), as this was not revealed until Eric P. Newman and Kenneth R. Bressett's The Fantastic 1804 Dollar (1962). Stewart thus failed to catch the King of American coins, but still excavated a few treasures.


    The demolition site was open, and, although Stewart paid his own workmen for archaeological finds, passersby were able to help themselves. Stewart explained in History of the First United States Mint (1924):

    "Every noontime, while the workmen were eating their luncheon, a crowd of boys would search the dirt for relics, and the finds made by these boys will unquestionably be saved by them. Scores of pieces of iron, brick, stone and wood were taken away and curiosity was unhampered to the fullest extent. I stood around as the work progressed for a period of four weeks and when a coin or planchet was found I got it by liberal use of modern money unquestioned at the grocery store."



    Among the discoveries were a 1795 copper dime, an 1803 copper half eagle, and a half dollar reverse die that Stewart surrendered to the Secret Service. He recovered numerous planchets of multiple denominations, including two holed pieces thought to be planchets for silver center cents. Stewart bequeathed his collection to the City of Philadelphia and today it is on permanent loan to Independence National Historical Park, which has in turn loaned the holed planchets and other pieces to the United States Mint for exhibition in the Mint gallery. The two pieces identified as Silver Center cent planchets are catalogued in the Independence Hall collection as follows.

    1. Independence National Historical Park inventory no. 9249. 5.6 grams (86.4 grains), diameter 22mm, thickness 2mm. Plain edge.
    2. Independence National Historical Park inventory no. 9250. 4.9 grams (75.6 grains), diameter 21mm, thickness 2mm. Partially reeded edge.



    The weights and diameters of these planchets are not entirely consistent with the known Silver Cent cents. "Voigt's plan" called for ¼ cent worth of copper, or 66 grains. These two pieces are overweight. With respect to diameter, the Silver Center cent in the Newman IV sale (Heritage, 5/2014) was 23mm. An intriguing possibility is that the Independence Hall specimens were intended for experimentation as thick planchets, similar to the thick flan 1792 silver disme (Judd-9a) in this sale, or the ANS example of 1792 Eagle-on-Globe quarter (Judd-13). In any case, the two planchets are highly desirable products of the first Mint. J. C. Mitchelson, who donated a significant pattern collection to the Connecticut State Library, offered Stewart a $50 slug in return for one of the planchets. Stewart, ever the local historian, declined on the basis that the objects should remain in Philadelphia.

    The Unique Sans Silver Example
    The present coin does not have a silver insert and may have been a trial striking before making the Silver Center pieces. The center opening is a V-shaped cross section, with a larger entrance on the obverse and smaller exit on the reverse. The interior of the opening shows evidence of being compressed during striking and as a result is smaller than that of the specimens struck with the silver plug in place. The coin exhibits a vertically reeded edge and the die alignment is 360 degrees. The NGC composition analysis is 99% copper.

    1792 Sans Silver Cent (Judd-1a) Roster
    1. MS62 Red and Brown NGC. Philadelphia estate, found in a piece of furniture; Silvano DiGenova and Stuart Levine; Anthony Terranova, 1993; Stack's (3/1995), lot 1400; Donald Groves Partrick; the present coin. In his 1984 provenance study, published in America's Copper Coinage, 1783-1857, 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)." This may represent an earlier appearance of this coin. Terranova exhibited the coin at the July 9, 1994 Early American Coppers meeting in Somerset, NJ.

    Physical Appearance
    This coin is exceptionally well struck, and Liberty's hair is strongly detailed. Indeed, this example may well demonstrate the finest strike among all known Judd-1 and Judd-2 cents. The surfaces are light brown with significant mint red remaining. The right obverse field exhibits light hairlines. On the reverse, the leaf veins further demonstrate the strong strike. Reverse color is similar to the obverse, with a few darker areas scattered about the lettering in UNITED STATES. The coin presents long dentils, particularly on the left and upper portions of the reverse. Any 18th century United States copper coin with remaining red draws immediate attention; that this coin is a unique pattern of 1792 only serves to highlight the present combination of rarity, condition, and desirability.

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 11002)


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 22
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,511

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