US Coins

Unpampered Albany Church penny still popular

Numismatic issues produced in early America often have “problems,” but many collectors figure that adds to their charm.

Those problems can include corrosion and environmental damage on copper coins and tokens, that emerged long after the coin was struck.


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For problem coins, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. and Professional Coin Grading Service both employ Details grading, where the sharpness is assessed and noted and the problem is identified. You can read about one such coin here.

Here is another example of one of those problem early coppers, still a popular collectible despite some green, brown and tan tones garnered along the way in its 228 years of existence:

The coin:

Undated Albany Church Penny, No D, Extremely Fine Details, Environmental Damage

The price:

$12,000

The story:

The Albany Church pennies are another issue popularly collected under the Early American copper umbrella and 1,000 were issued by the First Presbyterian Church of Albany, New York, in 1790. The uniface copper issues, valued as 12 to a shilling, were intended to replace worn, counterfeit coppers. 

There are two distinct types — one with a large D (a British abbreviation for “penny”) and one without. This “No D” example graded Genuine, Extremely Fine Details, Environmental Damage by Professional Coin Grading Service, has bold details and a nearly full design border, but both sides show extensive verdigris. Still, the blend of green, brown and tan tones is not unappealing and the rare issue — which predates the first striking of cents at the Philadelphia Mint in 1793 — sold for $12,000 on June 14 as part of Heritage’s June Long Beach Expo Premier Session auction. 

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