Click to enlargeJ4/P5

The Birch cent courtesy of the National Numismatic Collection of the Smithsonian Institution. This pattern is considered the true precursor to the large cent produced the following year. To see images of all known examples, click here.

This design exists as follows:

Plain edge J3/P4 which is probably unique as follow:

1) PCGSAU58BN, 226 grains, J.N.T. Levick, Cogan 12/1859 (per Cogan's 4/1863 sale), Jones, Appleton (per S.H. & H. Chapman's 5/1885 sale), Dewitt Smith, Brand (journal #46505), Horace Brand, Dr. Judd, Empire Review #18 & #19 (1963), Charles Jay (Stacks 10/67, Laird Park-Stacks 5/76, Archangel collection, StacksBowers 10/18, illustrated below courtesy of PCGS.


Lettered edge: TO BE ESTEEMED * BE USEFUL * J4/P5 - this is the most common variety with over a half dozen known as follows from Heritage 1/15 FUN sale:

1) NGC65RB. 220.8 grains, 350 degree alignment. David Rittenhouse; later, James W. Ellsworth; purchased by Wayte Raymond and John Work Garrett via Knoedler Galleries in May of 1923; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1981), lot 2349; Donald Groves Partrick-Heritage 1/15 FUN, illustrated below courtesy of Heritage.

2. PCGSAU58BN. 207.6 grains, 180 degree coin turn. E. Cogan 4/1863, lot 1073; Charles Ira Bushnell (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1882), lot 1763; Lorin G. Parmelee (New York Coin and Stamp, 6/1890), lot 7; John Story Jenks (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5571; Col. E. H. R. Green; Stack's Spring 1949 Special Price List; Stockmayer (Stack's, 7/1952), lot 175; Kreisberg-Schulman (4/1959), lot 1166; Kagin's (3/1964) lot 1444; Dr. Winfield Scott, Stacks on June 23, 1975-Kendall Foundation, StacksBowers 3/15, lot 2577, illustrated below courtesy of PCGS

3) VF. 206.3 grains. Newcomer, Richardson-Moore (Bebee's ANA Sale, 8/1955), lot 1421; Hollinbeck-Kagin's MANA Sale (11/1973), lot 1373; later, Stuart Levine; Anthony Terranova; Joseph Lasser; Colonial Williamsburg Foundation accession #2004-38. There is a toning spot on Liberty's cheek, and another directly in front of Liberty's eye and "NE" of "ONE" weak on reverse.

4) VF. 218.3 grains. S.H. & H. Chapman 5/1885 lot 1083, J.V. Dexter, R.G. Parvin, St Louis Stamp & Coin 2/04, lot 240, unknown intermediaries, Harmer Rooke 11/69 lot 3739, Stack's (5/1998), lot 107. There is a reverse scratch running from the top of the fraction to A in STATES.

5) VF. 216.8 grains. George F. Seavey (W.H. Strobridge, 6/1873 Seavey Descriptive Catalog lot 843); Lorin G. Parmelee; Dewitt Smith, Virgil M. Brand (journal #46506); Armin Brand-B.G. Johnson consignment to B. Max Mehl (private sale, 1/11/1937); Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 3394; Harvey and Larry Stack; Smithsonian Institution catalog no. 1993.0532.001. This coin exhibits an obverse scratch from Liberty's ear to nose visible on the Seavey plate, illustrated at top of page, click on the thumbnail to see an enlargement.

6) Fine-VF details, ANACS Genuine. 200 grains. Dr. J. Hewitt Judd (Kosoff Illustrated History, 1962), lot 11; John L. Roper, 2nd (Stack's 12/1983), lot 426; Stack's (12/1984), lot 611; Dana Linett (10/1988), lot 10. The N in ONE is weak, all other letters in ONE CENT are clear.

7) PCGSVG10BN. Arnold Perl (Stack's, 12/1969), lot 604; Bowers & Ruddy Rare Coin Review nos. 27-32; Roy Harte (Bowers & Ruddy, 11/1977), lot 2070; Wilfred Helwig (Bowers & Ruddy, 2/1979), lot 1539, Nippert (Mallette & Associates 7/15) as NGCVG10BN, Goldberg 6/16. The reverse is heavily worn with ONE CENT indistinguishable.

The example in the Lohr fixed price list is possibly the same as #3 or #4 or could be an 8th. The Pickwick coins (Numismatist Oct 1962 ad) piece was described as AU with a weak N in ONE would not match the Bushnell piece, could be a reappearance of the Lohr piece. The 81 ANA sale; lot 2730, Partrick example, which weighs only 193 grains, was listed by NGC as authenticity questionable and thus not graded. The Mickley-Appleton example is unidentified as is an example in Frossard's Jan 1890 edition of Numisma.


Lettered edge: TO BE ESTEEMED BE USEFUL * J5/P6 - with the following 3 examples confirmed.

1) Newcomer?, Stack's 5/46, Grand-Stack's, 12/47, Norweb-B/M 11/88 as XF, Partrick-Heritage 1/15 FUN, Heritage 8/16 ANA now incredibly NGC61BN as the upper right obverse field and Liberty's face are marred by several scratches, illustrated below courtesy of Heritage. This was struck with 180 degree die alignment, ie regular coin turn and weighs 262.2 grains

2) Friesner-S.H. & H. Chapman 4/1888, unknown intermediaries, Hollinbeck's 166th (1953), 202nd (1956), Hollinbeck-Kagin 10/58, Lauder-Doyle Galleries, 12/83, Lemus-Queller, Heritage 1/09 sale - PCGSF2, 240.6 grains, pedigree per P. Scott Rubin.

3) William H. Smith (Haseltine's 83rd 1/1885 sale lot 1058), Parmelee (New York Coin and Stamp, 6/1890), Bird?, Newcomer?, unknown intermediaries, Heritage 8/17 ANA - PCGS XF details, repaired, edge filed. This newly rediscovered piece, is illustrated below courtesy of Heritage, weighs 262.2 grains and has a die alignment 330 degrees. Because of its weight, we believe it originated as a Judd 5. John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman examined the piece at the June 2017 Baltimore show and it does have remnants of lettering on the edge.

The Parmelee coin is described as having its edge filed in S.H. Chapman's copy of the Parmelee sale viewable on the Newman Portal. It appears that the traditional pedigrees for Dr Judd's plain edge Judd 3 and this coin have been confused over the years.

An article by Carl W.A. Carlson in the March 1992 edition of the Numismatist describes the obverse die as being the same one as used to strike the famous G*W.Pt. cent
J6/P3 after extensive reworking.

Note: The Newcomer inventory/appraisal lists one of each in XF condition. His plain edge example is unidentified unless the Dr Judd coin was actually his. It is possible that the Dewitt Smith, Brand pedigree on J3 belongs with the J5 filed edge coin.

For additional historical information on 1792 coinage, click here.