From the NGC Archives: 1863 Proof Copper Pattern Two-Cent Piece J-312, P-377

Posted on 12/12/2008

Two-cent pieces still remain as curiosities and relics of another time.

Pattern coins represent a test of some new denomination, design or metallic composition. In the case of the two-cent patterns of 1863-64, they represent all three. Two-cent pieces were ultimately issued for circulation in 1864, and they were made of a copper/tin/zinc alloy known as French bronze. This composition became standard for the cent, as well, which had previously been coined in an alloy of copper and nickel. Well received initially, two-cent pieces were discontinued after just 10 years of production. Today, thousands remain as curiosities and relics of another time.

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The two-cent piece was the first United States coin to carry the now familiar motto IN GOD WE TRUST. This pattern of 1863 is somewhat similar to the adopted type of the following year, though its motto reads GOD OUR TRUST. It's evident that the spacing of this motto was unbalanced, and it may be that the motto ultimately used came about merely as a means of correcting that flaw. This specimen is one of the finer examples known. Its strike is absolutely superb, and the surfaces of this coin are pristine. It's toned to a rich russet, with suggestions of olive green and vivid magenta.

Are you interested in Pattern coins? Click here to visit the NGC Coin Encyclopedia where you can read more about Patterns.