Much effort was then applied to the cent, worth 1/100 of a dollar, authorized in copper by the Coinage Act. The unexpected rise in copper prices could turn to political disaster, just as US people were impatient of possible delays in the currency promised by their Congress.
This panic of copper is the cause of experiments of bimetallic copper-silver pattern cents : the silver-center cent and the fusible alloy cent. These unusual designs were both unsuitable for mass production.
Projects for full copper coin patterns are not abandoned. The Birch cent is certainly tested at the Philadelphia Mint at the end of 1792, of which it is bearing the date. Two copper variants are described by Judd and Pollock.
Similarities in the design enable to consider that this cent was prepared by the same engraver who also made the half disme. The Birch name is engraved down the neck of Liberty in the Birch cent. It was long attributed to an Englishman, but this hypothesis is not consistent with the autobiography of this miniaturist who moreover was not a medalist.
The solution will be political. On January 14, 1793, the Congress is devaluing from 264 to 209 grains the weight of a copper cent. The enigmatic Mr Birch disappears from the history of coinage. 264 grains correspond to 17.1 grams.
Nine units of the Birch copper cent are known. On January 8 in Orlando, Heritage sells without reserve the best two specimens. The piece in Judd-4 variant, graded MS65 by NGC, weighs 220 grains. Its bidding is reaching $ 1M before fees more than one week before the auction, lot 5504. The coin in Judd-5 variant is the next lot, 5505, currently at $ 180K before fees. It weighs 262 grains and is graded MS61 by NGC.
The simple comparison of the weights of these two coins, which both come from the Partrick collection, are the best evidence of the fundamental role played by the Birch cent in the development of the US cent.
Results including premium :
Graded MS61 : $ 560K