Coin Specifications

Category: Patterns & Trial Coins (1792-1863)
Mint: Philadelphia
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1794 J-15 H10C MS obverse 1794 J-15 H10C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

Judd-15, Pollock-19, R.8.

Design. Both obverse and reverse dies were used to strike regular-issue half dimes of the V-3, LM-3 variety dated 1794. Struck in copper with a reeded edge.

Commentary. In his magnum opus United States Patterns and Related Issues, Andrew Pollock III subdivides the older Judd-15 designation into two closely related classifications, Pollock-19 and 20. Pollock-19 is from the dies used to strike V-3, LM-3 variety 1794 half dimes, with the date close to the bust. Pollock-20 is from the dies used to strike V-4, LM-4 half dimes, with the date placed far from the bust. The present coin is one of the two known examples of Pollock-19.

The 1794 half dime was the first coin of this denomination struck at the U.S. Mint, because the famous 1792 issue was actually struck in John Harper's cellar before the Mint was built. Both examples of Pollock-19 are true die trial pieces, struck to test the half dime dies in 1794 or early 1795. In Federal Half Dimes 1792-1837, Russell Logan and John McCloskey report that all 1794 half dimes were delivered on March 30, 1795, so it is likely that the Pollock-19 coins were actually struck in early 1795. Both examples are remarkably well preserved, with the present coin certified as AU55 by NGC, and the other specimen grading an astounding MS64 Brown, also by NGC. It is clear that this issue has been prized and well cared for since the earliest days of the hobby.

Robert Coulton Davis compiled the first important listing of pattern coinage, published serially in The Coin Collector's Journal from 1885-1886. The 1794 half dime pattern was described as follows, "No. 12.-Obv. LIBERTY. Head with flowing hair to right. Before the head, seven stars; behind seven. In ex., 1794. Rev. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. An eagle with outstretched wings within a wreath of laurel. This is the pattern mill, or 1/10 of a cent. Copper." Davis apparently missed the first star behind Liberty's head, enmeshed in the curls.

The attribution of this pattern as a mill has caused much confusion among pattern researchers. Pollock notes that "R. Coulton Davis regarded these pieces as pattern mills, equivalent to one tenth of a cent. Interestingly, Davis' attribution seems to be substantiated by the weight of one specimen enumerated in the census below, 19.7 grains, which, of course, is very close to the expected theoretical weight of 20.8 grains. Unfortunately, no other weight data are presently available for this variety." Pollock was referring to the present coin, which he had examined, weighed, and measured. His theory that Davis might have attributed the coin based on weight and composition is ingenious, but further research has uncovered a different source for the attribution.

A description of an obscure lot in the Mickley Collection (Woodward, 10/1867), lot 2138, explains Davis' curious attribution. The lot description follows, "2138. Pattern Mill, or tenth of a cent, 1794, copper, struck from the dies of the 1794 Half-Dime, fine and excessively rare, possibly unique." From this description, it is clear that Davis was not basing his attribution on scientific weights and measures. He was merely describing the coin that appeared in the Mickley sale 18 years earlier. Of course, Pollock's observation may explain why Woodward described the coin as he did in 1867.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

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Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 3
Low Grade: 55
Average Grade: 62
High Grade: 64

The chart showing 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 9/22/2020 1794 H10C J-15 MS BN
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base---------1-----2------3
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Total---------1-----2------3
 ---------33%-----67%------ 

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.