US Coins

Birch cent among auction highlights

A 1792 Birch, Lettered Edge cent pattern once owned by the great-grandson of one of the co-founders of the industry conglomerate Procter & Gamble will cross the auction block in June.

The coin is one of possibly eight examples known (census lists differ on the number) and it is appearing at auction for the second time in less than a year. The pattern piece will be offered among the more than 3,000 lots of U.S. coins in the June 5 to 8 auction by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.

Graded and encapsulated Very Good 10 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. when the coin was offered July 25, 2015, by Mallette & Associates in Cincinnati, the coin has since been crossed over into a Professional Coin Grading Service Secure holder where it is also graded VG-10.

When the coin was sold by Mallette & Associates, the coin realized $225,000. There was no buyer’s fee.

For the Goldbergs’ sale, the coin carries an estimate of “$150,000 and up,” according to Jason Villareal, auction manager for the firm.

A 17.5 percent buyer’s fee will be added to the final closing hammer price of each lot won. 

Birch cent

The Birch cent to be offered in the June sale by Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers is the Judd 4 variety as cataloged in United States Pattern Coins by J. Hewitt Judd, edited by Q. David Bowers.

The Lettered Edge variety bears the inscription TO BE ESTEEMED ? BE USEFUL ?.

The Judd 4 piece is one of four varieties of Birch cent patterns that served as a precursor to full-scale large cent production in 1793.

It is believed the Birch cents were engraved by Robert Birch, who may also have engraved the 1792 half disme dies, based on the similarity of designs.

When offered by Mallette & Associates, the Very Good 10 Birch cent was part of the Nippert Family Collection. Louis and Louise Dieterle Nippert were prominent Cincinnati philanthropists. Louis Nippert was the great-grandson of Procter & Gambler co-founder James Gamble.

Mrs. Nippert, a classically trained singer, performed as a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s. In 2009, she donated $85 million to support the performing arts in Cincinnati.

The Nipperts were also co-owners of the Cincinnati Reds major league baseball team beginning in 1966. Mr. Nippert died in 1992 at age 89. Mrs. Nippert maintained a minority ownership interest in the Reds until her death at age 100 in 2012.

Before the Nipperts’ ownership of the Birch cent, the coin had been sold a number of times at public auction:

??Stack’s, Dec. 5 to 6, 1969, Fine, $2,800.

??Bowers and Ruddy Galleries Inc., Nov. 16 to 18, 1977, Fine obverse, Good reverse, $7,750 (before the eventual 1977 auction, Bowers and Ruddy had offered the coin at a fixed price in its Rare Coin Review, first at $14,500, then dropping the price to $10,450).

??Bowers and Ruddy, February 1979, Fine 12 obverse, About Good 3 reverse, $6,700.

The most paid for a Birch cent was $2,585,0000 for the finest known example, graded NGC MS-65?, red and brown, bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, that sold in Heritage Auctions’ January 2015 sale.

1933 Indian Head eagle

While the 1933 Indian Head gold $10 eagle has a reported production at the Philadelphia Mint of 312,500 coins, fewer than 30 examples are known to exist today, most of them in Mint State; the coin in the auction is graded PCGS Secure Mint State 66 and stickered by CAC.

The majority of the production was melted before ever having a chance to leave the Philadelphia Mint to enter circulation, thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 6102. Issued April 5, 1933, the order required the surrender of most privately owned “gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates.” Safe were issues and dates considered to be of special numismatic value. 

Many of the gold coins turned in where melted for their bullion content. Among the first to be destroyed under the presidential edict were recently produced coins, which included the 1933 Indian Head eagles and 1933 Saint-Gaudens gold $20 double eagles.

Wire and Flat Rim $20s

Among the other U.S. coin lots to be offered in the June 5 to 8 sale are a 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Roman Numerals, High Relief, Wire Rim $20 gold double eagle, graded PCGS MS-65; and a 1907 Saint-Gaudens, Roman Numerals, High Relief, Flat Rim $20 gold double eagle, graded PCGS MS-65+, CAC. 

During its inaugural year of production in 1907, the Saint-Gaudens double eagle output included issues struck in high relief with the dates in Roman numerals and examples with either a flat rim or a wire rim.

During modifications to accommodate the high relief during production, Mint officials in Philadelphia noted the existence of a fin, the element referred to numismatically as a wire rim.

The fin appears on the rim around the circumference of the Wire Rim coins. The high fin was created when metal flow extruded into the minute spacing between the edge collar and the die during striking. About three quarters of the High Relief double eagles seen today exhibit this feature. 

(The tripartite edge collar contained portions of the edge device bearing 13 stars and E PLURIBUS UNUM incused, to appear raised on the finished coin.)

The Mint adjusted the milling and dimensions of the planchets later in the production run in 1907 to eliminate the fin, creating the Flat Rim variant. Mint officials pursued the production adjustments to remove what they considered to be a defect.

Approximately 20 to 25 percent of the High Relief coins struck are of the Flat Rim variant.

For more information on the upcoming auction, visit

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