The E-Sylum:  Volume 7, Number 35, August 29, 2004, Article 6


  Alan V. Weinberg writes: "I'm just back from the ANA and
  read my email before retiring.  I see you mentioned the 1792
  fusible alloy pattern cent that appeared at the ANA.

  I know a bit more about it so perhaps the readers will enjoy
  further details. The coin was brought in raw  to the ANA by
  the family owners - I believe 4 people. It had been in the family
  for generations with a distant great-grandfather being a  coin
  collector around the time of the Civil War.

  It was shown to Bob Rhue and Tony Terranova, both of
  whom believed it to be genuine as it had the telltale diagonally
  reeded rim, an esoteric fact not widely known to forgers and
  Tony has handled his share of related 1792 silver center cents.
  Then someone else convinced the family to have it slabbed
  (thus obscuring the key diagnostic reeded rim!) and it was
  walked over to NGC who, at the peak of the day, was no
  longer accepting submissions and told the family to come
  back the next day! So PCGS accepted it and quickly slabbed
  the quite dirty piece as VF-30 without so much as oiling or
  brushing it...which they aren't supposed to do anyway.
  NGC's refusal to slab it got around  quickly - some employee
  really goofed! This was not a Morgan dollar !

  The family was inclined to consign it to auction and considered
  Heritage and American Numismatic Rarities' proposals before
  deciding to take it home and discuss alternatives with other
  family members. Both firms gave their best effort to claim the
  prize for auction, spending considerable time with the owners.

  The Redbook says there are 8 known, now 9. BUT in fact
  there are only 3 indisputably genuine and collectible grade
  pieces known (now 4) - an EF 40 in the Smithsonian, a nice
  VF ex-Norweb, now in my collection and a VF, weak with
  prominent planchet cutter crescent mark , ex-JHU/Garrett,
  in Don Partrick's collection. All other specimens are very
  porous, heavily worn and less than Good condition, one ex-
  Lauder collection and one in the ANA (the Lauder coin?)
  which has been questioned as to authenticity.

  The so-called "fusible alloy"  cent - from the same dies as
  the more "common" silver center cent - supposedly has the
  silver plug alloyed with the copper and thus is known as the
  fusible alloy cent.  It is a great rarity and is as difficult to
  acquire - probably more so - as the 1792 Birch cent
  pattern. Value as a VF -30? Well, the Norweb coin in
  similar condition auctioned for $32,000 plus the buyers fee
  in 1988. So all the publicity claiming it is a $400,000 coin
  may well just be ballyhoo.  Perhaps this estimate is based
  on the fact that a choice Unc 1792 silver center cent
  auctioned in Stack's January 2002  Americana auction for
  $414,000 to a  phone buyer (reputed to be a prominent
  Chicago dealer/collector  well known for his taste for high
  quality great numismatic rarities) . But that is in a condition-
  hyped market and a bimetal coin, more appealing than the
  rarer "fusible alloy" coin. At least that's my opinion.

  I'm also reliably informed a new specimen of a copper
  1792 disme appeared at the show, off the street, but that
  it is seriously marred. And an Ext Fine silver, UNholed
  76 mm Lincoln Indian Peace medal, absolutely genuine,
  also walked in off the street. The owner had no idea as
  to authenticity or value and had played with it as a child.
  Offered $10,000,  he put it back in his sock in
  astonishment and took it home.

  The annual ANA is certainly the place where great rarities
  can appear "out of the woodwork."   What a thrill!"

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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