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SERIES: Patterns - MS
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1792 1C Birch Cent J-4, BN (Regular Strike)

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Metal Content:
Auction Record:
$1,175,000 • PCGS AU58 • 3-26-2015 • Stack's/Bowers
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 AU58 PCGS grade
2 VF30 PCGS grade  
3 VF25 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 AU58 PCGS grade
2 VF30 PCGS grade  
3 VF25 PCGS grade  

David Hall: This variety of the Birch cent has the edge inscribed " TO BE ESTEEMED*BE USEFUL* " and there are eight known survivors. The finest known is the choice MS65BN from the Garrett sale. At the May, 1981 Garrett sale this specimen brought a very healthy price of $200,000.


P. Scott Rubin: The 1792 Copper Birch Cent with Lettered Edge showing two stars on the edge device, Judd-4, is a very rare and valuable coin. There are currently only seven known. It is one of four varieties of Birch Cents created by the first U.S. Mint employees, to develop the first Mint-made Large Cent of the United States. It is speculated that the Birch Cents changed as the Government was revising the specifications for its size, weight and design. The first of the four different designs incorporated, in its legend, the initials of George Washington. It is believed that, after Washington let it be known that he did not believe his image or name should be used on our national coinage, this design was abandoned. New obverse and reverse dies were then designed and these dies were used on the remaining three Birch Cent 1792 Patterns.

The differences between these three designs are their edge treatment. One edge is plain, one is lettered “TO BE ESTEEMED BE USEFUL (Star)”, and finally the lettering used on Judd-4 “TO BE ESTEEMED (Star) BE USEFUL (Star)”. In the Heritage 2015 FUN auction of the Donald G. Partrick Collection it is stated that it is believed that the differences between the two lettered varieties also denotes that they were produced at different times. The U.S. Congress originally proposed a higher weight for the Cent then that passed by Congress later in 1792, and since the one Star edge coins appear to weigh closer to the heavier weight, and the two Star coins weigh closer to the lighter weight, it gives evidence to the time in which the two different varieties were struck.

Of the seven known specimens of Judd-4 only two grade higher then Very Fine, the finest being the NGC MS65(Star) Red-Brown example recently sold in the above-mentioned Partrick Collection sale where it brought $2,585,000, followed by the AU-58 PCGS graded coin to be offered for sale in the March 2015 Stack’s/Bowers auction of the collection known as the Kendall Foundation Collection.

It is believed that the Birch Cents were engraved by Bob Birch, one of the original Mint employees of 1792. It is also highly likely that he engraved the 1792 Half Disme dies, based on the closeness of the design characteristics and some of the details in the design which differ from all other 1792 Pattern designs.