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1854 C-1, Breen 1-B

Image Information

Type coin
Title 1854 C-1, Breen 1-B
Date 1854
Country U.S.
Grade PR63
Service PCGS
Denomination H1c
Variety C-1, Breen 1-B

1854 C-1 Breen 1-B (with lump on I in UNITED) Judd-155 Unique Pattern in copper/zinc/silver alloy. PCGS graded Proof 63 Brown. Glossy golden tan and light brown. Mint state sharpness but the surfaces have been very lightly burnished. No spots, stains, or contact marks, but there are some minor planchet lamination streaks on both sides. The notable laminations are a short vertical one at the rim under the 4, another at the dentils left of star 7, and several similar ones on the reverse passing down slightly to the left of vertical, the strongest of these under the ribbon loop. Half cents struck from the Breen 1-B die pair are not rare; it's the planchet that makes this piece so special. An analysis performed subsequent to the 1987 Norweb sale shows the planchet is 80% copper, 16% tin, and 4% silver (reported in the 2003 Judd/Bowers book on patterns, pages 65-66). That Judd/Bowers book indicates 2 examples are known struck in this alloy, but an analysis of the second claimed example apparently has shown that planchet is of the normal copper planchet alloy, just discolored. That leaves the coin offered here as the only confirmed example of the J-155 variety. For more than 75 years this piece was considered to be copper-nickel, but Mr. Tettenhorst recognized that the strike is considerably sharper than is found on half cents struck on copper-nickel planchets (which are always poorly struck due to the hardness of the nickel alloy). With his curiosity piqued, he asked Eric Newman to have the metallic content analyzed. This was accomplished in the science department of Washington University in St. Louis, and the results came back as stated above. Weight 83.6 grains. The rust pit on the I is strong. A discussion of this specific example is available on page 451 of the Breen book on Half Cents, and the Norweb catalog expands on what Breen had to say. However, both discussions predate the metallic analysis, and every sale prior to this one has erroneously called it "copper-nickel." Our grade is Proof-55. The attribution and Missouri Cabinet provenance are shown on the PCGS label. PCGS population 1; the only example graded. Comes with an impressive provenance, which you would expect for such a significant piece. (PCGS # 11645) Estimate Value $17,500 - UP Ex William H. Woodin (co-author with Edgar H. Adams of United States Patterns, Trial and Experimental Pieces published by the American Numismatic Society in 1913, therein listed as AW-192)-Judson Brenner (who displayed this coin the American Numismatic Society's Exhibition of United States and Colonial Coins, January Seventeenth to February Eighteenth 1914, listed in the exhibition catalog on page 98)-F. C. C. Boyd-Farouk I of Egypt (Farouk bin Ahmed Fuad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin Muhammad Ali bin Ibrahim Agha)-United Arab Republic, Sotheby & Co. (London) "The Palace Collections of Egypt" February 24-28 and March 3-6, 1954, lot 1750 (2 pieces in the lot, this coin and an 1854 $10 copper pattern)-James P. Randall 1957-R. Henry Norweb Family collection (The Honorable Raymond Henry Norweb [October 1, 1983] and Emery May Holden Norweb)-Emery May Holden Norweb (March 27, 1984)-Raymond Henry Norweb, Jr., Auctions by Bowers and Merena, Inc., 10/12/1987:134-R. Tettenhorst-Missouri Cabinet (Mocab 54.3.2).

Price Realized: $46000

Images and description courtesy of Ira and Larry Goldberg Coins and Collectibles, Los Angeles, CA.

From Goldberg's sale of the Missouri Cabinet Collection, 1/26/2014, lot 215.

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