Your Average Find
By David C. Harper, Numismatic News
December 18, 2008
was a nice little coin, a 1792 silver center cent
bought for $400 at a police auction. It's even nicer now that
the owner has learned it's worth $300,000.
A California collector is just now absorbing the news from
ANACS that the coin he had purchased at a 2006 Modesto Police
Department auction is one of only 14 known pieces. This one
was graded VG-10 details but scratched.
"I'm still a little in shock myself," said the
collector, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The process of finding out the truth about the coin took
more than two years and was not without its skeptics.
"I actually showed it to a local coin dealer who said,
'No, no that's nothing,'" he recalled.
Even the members of the local coin club were not encouraging.
The members passed it around, but the "club treated it
as a novelty," he said.
Because the collector is a regular submitter of material
to ANACS, he decided to send the silver center cent along.
"I'm probably throwing good money after bad," he
said he thought at the time.
But his courage was bolstered by looking at auction lots
on the Stack's Web site. He noted that a coin being offered
had a similar wear pattern.
ANACS President James Taylor said that when his firm received
the coin for authentication and grading, it was shown around
at shows to the top experts. Each one was not told of the
opinions of the others.
The experts included Ken Bressett, John Kraljevich, Julian
Leidman, Anthony Terranova and Alan Weinberg, who concurred
it was authentic.
The silver center cent was made as a pattern where a silver
plug worth three-quarters of a cent was inserted in copper
worth a quarter of a cent. It is listed as the first pattern,
Judd-1, in the classic United States Pattern Coins, Experimental
and Trial Pieces by J. Hewitt Judd.
ANACS came back with the good news and shipped the pattern
back to the collector on Dec. 15 - a perfect Christmas gift.