Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 28

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Lot 806

1792 Pattern Cent. Copper, reeded edge. No Silver Center. . Judd-2. Pollock-2 Rarity-7. PCGS graded VF-30 PQ. A monumental offering of this fantastic discovery piece! This 1792 Copper Cent has just come out of the woodwork and its history and path to the present are enshrouded in mystery. The technical qualities of this specimen are outstanding and characterized in brief by smooth, clean surfaces, pleasing coloration and honest and even wear. We feel that this example should most likely be considered the 3rd or 4th finest known of the nine specimens accounted for. The opportunity to purchase a coin of this caliber comes around very seldom, often decades in between, if ever at all.

The year 1792 was very significant for the beginning of our monetary system and our first Mint: George Washington selected David Rittenhouse to be the first Director of the Mint; a lot was purchased in Philadelphia with the sole intention of building the minting facilities on it; copper was purchased for coining on presses newly arrived from England; and several denominations of coinage were struck in silver and copper. Newly elected and hired, Mint personnel and authorities immediately started experimenting with design and logistical considerations such as the 1792 Silver Center Cent and fusible alloy cent. This fusible alloy concept, supposedly proposed by Henry Voigt, sought to circumvent the production of pure copper cents due to the large size their planchets would be, such as the 1792 Birch Cent. Therefore, Voigt thought that by mixing copper and silver together, a combination called billon, a smaller planchet size cent could be produced, and, indeed, a single confirmed fusible alloy cent (the Harmer-Rooke specimen) proves that production of this concept occurred. One obvious problem comes to mind with this idea: how could the public know any given cent had the right amount of silver alloyed with the copper? Even today it takes very expensive X-ray fluorescence equipment to determine this. Addressing this potential problem at the time, officials decided that the last thing our new coinage needed was the potential for claims of fraud via planchets not having the correct balance of # of a cent's worth of silver with ¼ of a cent's worth of copper. The fusible alloy cent was "vetoed" with a unanimous "you're fired".

Keeping all this in mind, all 1792 Judd-2 examples should be considered struck in pure copper unless tested by current equipment to determine whether or not traces of silver are present. Adding to the mystery and desirability of the present offering is the fact that until tested, it is possible that this specimen could be a fusible alloy example. The cataloguer of the Norweb Sale pointed out that of the 8 specimens traced at that time, only one, the Harmer-Rooke specimen, had been tested and confirmed to be a fusible alloy example.

The quality of this groundbreaking discovery is fantastic. Surfaces display a very light degree of porosity which is easy to come to terms with when weighed against the qualities of the rest of the coin. Device and legend detail is even and appears to be sharper than the designated grade of VF30. The delineation between the top of the forehead and beginning of the flowing hair is sharply defined. Planchet quality is very pleasing and above average. There is some dark verdigris that has settled into the letters and around the devices, frequently seen on these early copper patterns. No rim bruises are seen and the fields are remarkably free from scratches, ticks or hits. With regard to the dies, the N's in SCIENCE and INDUSTRY are missing feet on the lower right serif. The letters in the legend display bifurcation on their feet. The R in AMERICA has a long stem and the top of R is open, giving a "LIBKERY" appearance. On the reverse, the C in CENT is low and the second 0 of 100 touches the fraction bar.

In our Benson Sale Part I, February 2001, we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sell Condition Census example #4, the Lauder Specimen (PCGS VG-10). The cataloguer of the Norweb Sale, 11/88:3393, created a list of known specimens for the 1792 Copper Cent. We present that same list here in an attempt to illustrate how high up on the Condition Census this discovery piece is:

1) National Collection
2) Norweb, second finest
3) Garrett: 2348, ex-Maris, Seavey
4) Lauder: 234, Bowers and Ruddy's Rare Coin Review, #53
5) ANA Museum, ex Paramount's Century Sale, 1965:50; Pine Tree 2-21-1975:69
6) Harmer-Rooke 11-69; to a private collection, Good to Very Good, porous
7) Lohr (1961); River Oaks, Bower and Ruddy, 1976:909; Stack's 1-14-78:476, Good, porous
8) Crosby, Plate X, 12, the Appleton-MHS coin, now untraced

It is with great excitement that we offer this previously unknown example and one ranking near the quality of the Norweb and Garrett specimens. The early American copper patterns are not just rare coins; they are artifacts of our nation's birth and representatives of freedom and liberty and the American dream to succeed. To further illustrate the unquestionable connection between this coin and the founders of our great nation, we delve into the fantastic pedigree accompanying this specimen (PCGS # 11004) .
Estimated Value $250,000 - 350,000.
The present specimen comes from a family with direct ties to the Colonial and early national periods of our nation. The Wolcott family first arrived in America in 1636 when Henry Wolcott settled in Windsor, Connecticut. Mr. Henry Wolcott is known to have been an English gentleman of considerable fortune and his arrival to Connecticut marked the beginning of many generations of direct involvement and leadership in Connecticut public and financial affairs, as well as direct involvement in the creation of our nation's unity. While we could write an entire story about the influence that Henry Wolcott had on our early nation our focus is on Oliver Wolcott and Oliver Wolcott, Jr., for this is where the plot really thickens!

Oliver Wolcott was a 4th generation direct descendent of Henry Wolcott. Like his predecessors, he was involved in forming and forging the new identity of America. Born in 1726, Oliver Wolcott later graduated from Yale, was appointed to the position of Captain in the army in the French War, received service decoration for his duty at our northern frontiers, had a seat in the Second Congress in 1776, signed the Declaration of Independence and, lastly, served as the Lt. Governor of Connecticut. Throughout all of these achievements, he also managed to establish a family, and it is his son, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., that is perhaps the direct link to the beginning of this 1792 Copper cent's journey to its present offering in the year 2004. Oliver Wolcott, Jr. was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1760 and died in New York City in 1833. Throughout that time period, he amassed a resume just as impressive in its own right as his father's and continued the generational trend of direct involvement in the creation of our new nation. Yet it is his direct involvement with our newly created Treasury that is of vital importance to the journey of this coin. Oliver Wolcott, Jr. served as Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury from 1791-1795, and at the young age of 35, succeeded Alexander Hamilton as the 2nd Secretary of the Treasury by direct appointment by President George Washington! He held this position from February 3rd, 1795 through March 3rd, 1797 under President Washington then President John Adams continued his post until December 31, 1800. It is during this time period, 1791-1800, that one can speculate on all sorts of scenarios that led to the Wolcott family's coming into possession of this fabulous 1792 copper cent. Anyone who has studied early American numismatics can recite the facts about the establishment of our First Mint in the 1792-1793 time frame. Perhaps it is during this period that George Washington himself gave Oliver this cent. No one will ever know for sure, but the historical and genealogical facts surrounding this family and the subsequent surfacing of this Condition Census 1792 Copper issue will allow an endless speculation to occur over the journey this specimen has taken. We are thrilled to offer this groundbreaking specimen to our bidders and the numismatic community!

Realized $437,000

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