One of the most historic coins struck by the early U.S. Mint, a 1792 Judd-1 Silver Center cent pattern, MS61 Brown PCGS, headlines the Heritage Auctions April 2012 Central States Signature® U.S. Coin Auction in Schaumburg, IL, April 18-20, with Platinum Night™ offerings on April 19.
The 1792 Silver Center cents were experimental pieces designed by Chief Coiner Henry Voigt to remedy a flaw in the Mint Act of 1792: the official weight for one cent coins would have made them too large and heavy for practical use. Voigt suggested a small silver plug, worth ¾ of a cent, surrounded by copper worth ¼ of a cent. The value of the metal would be the same, but the Silver Center cent was designed to be smaller and easier to handle.
"Our long-running relationship with the Central States Numismatic Society and conducting its annual convention’s official auction is alive and well," said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage, "as is our tradition of bringing important rarities to those auctions. The 1792 Silver Center cent is tremendously important to the history of U.S. coinage — arguably far more so than a number of better-known and more celebrated rarities."
The Silver Center cents were the first coins struck on the grounds of the U.S. Mint, lending them great historical importance, but they never went into general production and are very rare today. Congress reduced the official weight of the cent instead, making an all-copper coin more practical. Heritage’s roster of Silver Center cents counts only 14 positively identified survivors.
This Silver Center cent, presented as An Offering From The Liberty Collection, was used to illustrate the type in Walter Breen’s famous Encyclopedia and is pictured in certain past editions of A Guide Book of United States Coins, popularly known as the "Red Book."
Beyond the Silver Center cent, the great strength of the auction is its range of classic proof gold. The William D. Plumley Collection contains many high-grade examples of 19th and 20thcentury rarities.
"Most proof gold coins were rare from the moment they were struck," said Rohan, "and many coins were melted or spent. This is one of the strongest proof gold offerings we’ve had in years."
The best coin in The William D. Plumley Collection is an 1885 double eagle, PR67 Cameo NGC, CAC, the highest-graded proof example of its issue ever to come to auction. Out of 77 pieces struck, fewer than two dozen survive. Smaller but just as important is an extremely rare 1836 quarter eagle, Variety-9, PR64 Cameo PCGS Secure. One of just two Variety-9 coins graded as a proof, it has been in several important collections, including the "World’s Greatest Collection" assembled by F.C.C. Boyd and the John Jay Pittman Collection.
One of the more remarkable coincidences of the proof gold selection is that four examples of the proof 1897 double eagle are offered as consecutive lots: 5355, 5356, 5357 and 5358, with only the last two pedigreed to Plumley. The 1897 has a reputation as the most challenging later-date proof double eagle, with fewer than two dozen examples known in all grades.
Beyond Platinum Night, the auction has one of the most extensive specialized collections Heritage has handled: The Clifton A. Temple Collection focuses on private tokens struck during the Civil War in Michigan, usually with designs promoting the business of the issuer. One of the most important tokens in the collection is an 1863 Boyd & Bradly Token, AU55 NGC. Boyd & Bradly, grocers, were the only merchants known to issue a Civil War token for the tiny town of Cassopolis, MI. Only about 10 examples are known in all grades, and token enthusiasts who collect by city, a popular subspecialty, find towns such as Cassopolis particularly challenging.
Additional highlights include, but are not limited to:
1793 Chain cent, AMERICA reverse, S-2, AU55 PCGS Secure: Only minor wear is present on this Chain cent more than two centuries old, one of the earliest coins minted by the U.S. for general commerce. From The Colorado Springs Collection.
1919-D dime, MS66 Full Bands PCGS Secure, CAC: Extremely rare with this combination of surface preservation and sharp strike. From The Carnton Collection.
1932 Washington quarter, MS67 PCGS: An essential coin for the elite Registry collection, one of just two coins so graded by PCGS, as of March 2012, with none finer. From The George’s Army Collection.
1841 quarter eagle, PR55 NGC: A lightly rubbed example of this very rare and enigmatic issue, popularly known as the "Little Princess."
1867 double eagle, PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS, CAC: The 11th known specimen of this extremely rare proof issue, found in Europe and offered to U.S. collectors for the first time in more than a century.
About Heritage Auctions
Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $800 million, and 700,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit HA.com.