US Coins

Market Analysis: Curious 1786 New Jersey copper piece with a sawtoothed edge

The New Jersey legislature authorized the private minting of 3 million copper coins on June 1, 1786, which was carried out over the next two years, and the resulting series is well-studied and loved by specialists. 

This 1786 New Jersey copper is notable for its edge, which has been shaped into irregular teeth around much of the obverse. Whether the modification served some functional purpose or was the result of someone’s boredom is unknown.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries in its auction description observed, “This modification is undoubtedly ancient as the teeth are dull and nicely patinated,” grading it Very Fine 20 by detail. The coin sold for $1,140 on May 24 at the firm’s Baltimore Expo auction. 

Some roughness of the surfaces can be seen, but the description attributed that to natural planchet striations inherent to the variety. It is cataloged Maris 16-J in the comprehensive 2013 American Numismatic Society publication New Jersey State Coppers, which updated Edward Maris’ 1881 reference to the series. Only around 20 examples are known of the tough variety, with a different one, graded Fine 15, bringing $2,115 in 2013. Despite the coin’s obvious impairment, the cataloger praised its well-defined centers and appealing glossy surfaces. 

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