Not Your Average Find
By David C. Harper
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
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
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
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.