For over a century and a half, early American coins and state coppers in particular have been among the most studied of all coins from this hemisphere. They have been sought out, classified, studied, re-studied, re-classified, subjected to every manner of historical and scientific inquiry, and placed in their proper historical and economic contexts. They have been collected by generation after generation of tireless seekers, careful students, and powerful magnates. Despite this searing spotlight of attention by the best and brightest, new discoveries continue to pop up, some admittedly minor, some others quite major.
This is one of those major ones: the first ever recorded marriage of two reverse dies in any state copper series. This piece was clearly not the product of an extraordinary flip-over double strike error, or bizarre overstrike, or post-mint adulteration; it was created by the Company for Coining Coppers, on a press, from a standard Connecticut planchet coined between an anvil and a hammer die, both of which just happened to be 1788-dated reverses. The edge shows no signs of tampering and looks rather like other 1788 Connecticuts. The color, surface quality, strike, and other indications likewise raise no suspicion of tomfoolery. Your cataloger saw this piece in the copper shortly after its discovery. Though puzzled and amazed, the feeling of its authenticity was instant and held up under careful scrutiny.
This coin clearly had to have been specially struck, possibly with the same sort of whimsy that produced MOS (multiple offset strikes) that resemble a compass rose, a shamrock, or other improbable alignments that would have been essentially impossible to occur as a negligent error. It has clearly also been specially preserved. Both sides are smooth glossy light brown, sharp and attractive. Each are fully struck. The F.1 reverse shows rounded edges and an alignment to 6 o'clock, with only about half of the date present. It is in an advanced die state, with a break at the E of INDE, a crack up from the bottom serif of B in LIB, and various raised field artifacts caused by either spalling or clashing. The strike is exceptionally bold, with full shield detail and an unusually well detailed seated figure -- this is not a casually struck coin. The other reverse, Miller Reverse G, is "a classic example of a late state," according to Connecticut student Randy Clark, who continued that, "the lower of the two exergue lines is completely missing on the right, which is actually later than any other image I can conveniently locate." It is aligned to 12 o'clock, with a bold arc of denticles around the bottom from 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock; this is the typical alignment for this die. Some light surface verdigris is present at the right end of the exergue and in various interstices, including the errant planchet cutter mark that runs around most of the coin. The strike is definitely sharp and the surfaces are wholly original. The alignment between the dies is within a few degrees of perfect coin turn.
This coin is so unique, so distinctive, that it creates questions of how to classify it. It is, at base, a brand new marriage of known dies, and thus a new Connecticut variety, no matter how or why it was struck. Is it an error? Seemingly not, as the piece is struck so well, and preserved so perfectly, that negligent happenstance doesn't seem like its backstory. If it was preserved on a whim, as a piece de caprice for a coiner, does that make it less of a variety? Surely not, otherwise we would be delisting all dies whose marriage makes no sense (c.f. Ryder-1, Ryder-31, all Connecticut-Machin's mulings, etc., etc.) By all rights, this should be categorized like any other muling of dies known to Miller and later generations of Connecticut collectors: as a new Miller number (i.e. Miller F.1-G), a listing in the canon, a stand-alone Rarity-8 variety. Somewhere, an employee of the Company for Coining Coppers is chuckling.
Thanks to specialists Robert Martin and Randy Clark for their assistance and correspondence during preparation of this catalog description.