PCGS No: 599
Diameter: ±24.5 millimeters,
rare exceptions are known on large, oval planchets
Copper - 100%
Weight: ±84 grains (5.44 grams)
Images courtesy of Ron Guth
on an India (Bengali Presidency / Prinsep Coinage) 1/2 Anna
The Bar "Cents" first appeared in the American Colonies in
1785, when they joined the mix of motley coppers then in
circulation. Their weight was too low to be valued at a Cent, but
the name has stuck through use and tradition (in fact, the weight is
almost identical to the U.S. Half Cents of 1795 and later years).
The obverse copies the U.S.A. monogram seen on pewter buttons worn on
the uniforms of Continental soldiers. The reverse consists of
thirteen parallel bars, signifying the original 13 Colonies. Their
simple, patriotic design makes them a favorite with collectors, although
they are rather scarce and expensive.
Bar "Cents" were
made in England, possibly at Wyon's mint in Birmingham (more famous for
their Nova Constellatio Coppers). Various forgeries exist, ranging
in quality from crude casts to excellent struck copies and
electrotypes. All genuine examples have a small, thorn-like
projection on the far right side of the bottom edge of the second bar
from the top (this defect is seen clearly on the illustration
above). Electrotypes will also show this projection, so
authentication is mandatory.
Breen lists two specimens
that are known on larger, oval planchets and speculates that they might
have been "...some kind of special presentation or souvenir
striking", but this is unlikely. Until the weights of these
two unusual examples is ascertained, we can only speculate that they are
normal strikes on misshapen blanks.
The finest Bar
"Cent" certified by PCGS is a single MS-66 Brown.
PCGS MS-66 Brown. Offered
at the 2002 New York American Numismatic Association convention by RAAB
coins for $36,000.00
PCGS AU-58. Ex - Paul Arthur Norris (puchased privately) - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins
& Collectibles, Inc.'s "Pre-Long Beach Sale", September 23
& 24, 2002, Lot 80, illustrated, where it was described as follows:
"PCGS graded AU-58. Nearly perfect surfaces on this
one, a medium light brown color and no signs of abuse. There are a couple
of very light specks on the reverse between the bars. Boldly struck and
well centered, and truly an American classic in every sense of the word.
The diagnostics of the A over the S are clear, as is the small spur on the
right end of the second bar, which confirm this to be one of the
originals. The first bar coppers were reported in the New Jersey Gazette,
November 12, 1785 which is likely near time of their release.
Charles Bushnell attributes this issue to the famous George Wyon III and
his Birmingham Mint. The coins were likely ordered by an American
merchant, perhaps using a soldiers button for the simple, but endearing
design. These coppers were struck at a lighter standard than the usual 60
to the pound, but they likely passed at 14 to the shilling, nowhere near
the "cent" value long attributed to these because of their
similarity in size to later large cents. Most of the survivors grade from
Fine to Very Fine, and rarely are these encountered in grades even
approaching mint state."
"AU-50" (illustrated above). Ex - H. Cuddy, sold in
October 1970 - Dr. Robert J. Hinckley - Bowers and Merena "The
Collections of Phillip Flanagan, Dr. Robert Hinckley...", November
29-December 1, 2001, Lot 2423, illustrated, "...85.0 grains.
Diameter: 24.8 mm. A die crack connects the two central-most bars at
their centers...", sold for $5,520.00
"EF-45, cleaned and retoned". Ex - Superior Stamp
& Coin's "The ANA 2000 National Money Show Auction", March
2-3, 2000, Lot 30, "Breen 1145"
Sources and/or recommended
"Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia Of U.S. And Colonial
Coins" by Walter Breen
"The PCGS Population Report, April 2002" by The
Professional Coin Grading Service