Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 28

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Lot 805

1792 Copper Disme. . Judd-11. Pollock-12 Rarity-8. PCGS graded "Genuine". Our Grade MS-64 Brown. Unique Discovery Specimen With Cancellation Marks. The present specimen is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing and stunning coins that this firm has had the opportunity to handle. We begin with a description of the surfaces, which we note as Mint State 64 Brown. Light chocolate coloration with only the slightest darker brown tone on the high points. There is no evidence of wear of any sort and the entire coin has the appearance of a presentation piece. Obviously, one immediately sees the two large "X's" on the obverse with a small area near 5:00 on the obverse that is either a small portion of a third "X" or a planchet defect. On the reverse, there are areas of flatness that correspond to the marks on the obverse. Currently, the exact nature of these markings can only be speculated over and while we will attempt to do just that, feel free to come to your own conclusions. We feel the current coin is a presentation piece of the Plain Edge 1792 disme and that the coin possesses cancellation marks. Generally, the cancellation occurs on the die itself and therefore, the corresponding cancelled coins have raised marks where the metal would flow into the depressed cancelling marks on the die. From the historical information that is mentioned below, we know that a single obverse die of this design can be accounted for. Since both Plain Edge (Judd-11) and Reeded Edge (Judd-10) examples are known for the 1792 copper disme, it seems entirely possible that Plain Edge examples were struck, then rejected in favor of the production of reeded edge examples. Obviously, with only one die in existence, the coin itself had to be cancelled rather than the die. Since the roster of known examples of the Judd-10, Reeded Edge copper disme contains 14 specimens (one with whereabouts unknown) and not a single specimen has been documented with cancellation marks, it is a possibility that the Plain Edge was quickly discontinued after its initial striking. Prior to the appearance of this discovery coin, only 2 specimens of the Judd-11, Plain Edge 1792 copper disme were known. The first being the specimen previously owned by Adam Eckfeldt/U.S. Mint Collection, later to Dr. Edward Marris and sold in the Garrett Collection in 1981. The second example was the specimen sold by Empire Coin Co. in 1961, current location unknown.

The method of delivery of both cancellation marks appears to have come from the same tool, most likely a chisel. When measuring the central, most pronounced "X", the distance from the intersection of the lines to the end of each leg of "X" is 4.6mm. The second mark, further to the left and incomplete still allows for a single measurement to be made from the intersection to the end of one leg, once again measuring 4.6mm. Both marks are of the same depth and same character, with one side of the recessed area being vertical and the other spreading out more shelf-like. The third mark, closer to 5:00 on the obverse is questionable. It appears to be the same nature of the cancellation marks, especially when considering depth and form, but it is too incomplete. Here it is seems possible that a planchet defect occurred closest to the border and a single chisel mark was punched over it. On the reverse, the areas of flatness correspond with the areas of cancellation on the obverse. It seems that the first central cancellation punch would have produced the flatness seen over the majority of the eagle. The second punch produced the flatness seen towards the left, also causing the scrape marks seen on the flattened eagle as the reverse coin shifted from the force of the blow.

The coinage produced during the period just prior to the opening of America's first national minting facility has become the most coveted and romantic of American numismatics. Not a single appearance of a 1792 half disme, disme, cent, silver center cent, birch cent or Wright quarter dollar occurs without reflection on the birth of our nation's first mint and furthermore, the evolution of our monetary system and new nation. The striking of these 1792 pattern issues represents a commitment to the national coinage system first proposed by Robert Morris in 1785, later refined by Thomas Jefferson and officially accepted by Congress on July 6, 1785, when the unit of the United States decimal monetary system officially became the dollar. The dollar, with its underlying decimal counterparts, has gone on from that beginning to be the foundation of the modern worlds' economic heartbeat and is a symbol of the "superpower" status fo the United States of America.

When Congress approved the establishment of the first United States Mint in April of 1792, they acted quickly to make sure this first Mint would come to fruition. Proposals for a national mint had been made earlier, in 1782 and 1790, with nothing ever materializing and it was time to act. President George Washington selected David Rittenhouse to be the first Director of the Mint. A lot on Seventh Street in Philadelphia was purchased and prepared for the construction of the first national minting facility. On July 31, 1792, the cornerstone of America's first mint was laid by David Rittenhouse

At George Washington's request, a portrait of himself was not to be placed on the coinage of our country. Instead, a portrait emblematic of Liberty was developed and placed on these 1792 patterns. When viewing the 1792 disme obverse design, one cannot help but notice striking similarities between the issue and the 1793 half cent. Don Taxay, in The U.S. Mint and Coinage, cited evidence of the creation of the 1792 Disme and mentioned a certain individual by the name of B.L.C. Wailes who visited the Mint in 1829. Mr Wailes, after returning from a Mint visit, was recorded as stating,

"Mr. Eckfeldt, one of the Superintendents (the second in grade) is an artist and has been in the Mint from its first establishment. [He] made the first dye used in it."

Taxay went on to comment that the die mentioned by Mr. Wailes is most certainly the 1792 disme and since only one die can be associated with Mr. Eckfeldt (based upon the comments of Mr. Wailes), then the reverse die should be associated with Robert Birch. Further speculation on the connection between the 1792 disme obverse design and Adam Eckfeldt comes from the presentation of a 1793 half cent by Adam Eckfeldt to another individual as an example of his work. This event was mentioned by Walter Breen, Andrew Pollock III and Don Taxay, based on W. Elliot Woodwards' 1863 auction of a 1793 half cent. The passage quoted in Taxay's U.S. Mint and Coinage is as follows: "A peculiar interest attaches to this coin. Nearly sixty years since it was presented to a gentleman, by Mr. Adam Eckfeldt, as a specimen of his work, and has remained in the possession of the person to within a few days."

Regardless of the exact nature of this piece, the curiosity that it spawns and its near-gem appearance (when not taking into consideration the cancellation marks) make this one of the most interesting coins to come to the numismatic community in years. The discovery of this piece does not diminish the Rarity-8 status of the Plain Edge 1792 Copper Disme and in fact, enhances the variety by adding mystery to its production. Whether a collector of the most prominent early type coins or a collector already possessing some example of the 1792 pattern coinage, you will respect that this specimen is unique and intensely desirable as such!
Estimated Value $30,000 - 50,000.

Realized $55,200

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