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1859 brass cent

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 6:48 pm
by JRM
Hi All,
I have used this site for years now, great information here for sure.
but I need some help.

Twenty five or more years ago a dear friend gave me a 1859 large cent, she said at the
time it was brass and that she had acquired it many years before.
It is not in the greatest of shape but it is not wore out either.
My question is.... how does one find out if it really is brass or not? that at the
moment is my issue.

any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Rick

Re: 1859 brass cent

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 8:19 pm
by Bill in Burl
Post a photo straight perpendicular to the coin. Don't magnify more than 10X if possible. I a few people look at it, we'll tell you to maybe examine further. It would need to have an XRF scan done on it to ID the specific alloy. I know a person who is a moderator on another site who has the use of one.

Re: 1859 brass cent

Posted: Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:35 pm
by JRM
Hi Bill,
not sure if this is what you want but I posted these for now.



59coin.jpg
59coin.jpg (78.36 KiB) Viewed 1528 times
59cent1.jpg
59cent1.jpg (75.91 KiB) Viewed 1528 times



My wifes I pad will take better photos once I get it, I can probably post better images with it if need be.
I think the light is interfering with the second image.

Thanks
Rick

Re: 1859 brass cent

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:03 am
by Bill in Burl
To me, it looks bronze, just like the other 10 million of the 1859's. The "brass" 1859, on which 4 of us co-wrote the research article on it in the 3/2012 Canadian Numismatic Journal, was not deliberately made. It was caused by an improper mixing of the bronze alloy in the melting pot. As the molten metal was poured into the small bricks/ingots to be fed into the rollers (to make sheets from which the planchets were stamped out), the zinc in the alloy mix remained nearly in mass, so that the ingot had a small portion of it higher in Zn than the 1% normal. As the ingot was rolled through the rollers to make the sheets, a small section of the sheet got into the "brass" alloy range. As the planchets were stamped from the sheet, the very few coins minted from them had zinc in a greater % than the tin, making it technically "brass". Normal 1859's have CU-95, Sn-4, & Zn-1 %'s plus maybe some iron and lead impurities. Some of the planchets came out 5-15% Zinc (with almost no tin) due to the improper mix and those have been classified as "brass" cents. So far, only a relative handful of them have ever been found and there are reports of other dates that have reported "brass" cents, also due to the improper mixing of the alloy compounds.

Your coin looks to have been concave and bent on the Obverse (portrait side) that has pushed out the middle of the reverse. With heavy surface corrosion, someone at some time (maybe long ago) tried to clean off the green/dark crap. That exposed the center of the coin to bare, polished bronze which is the yellowish color that you see on the highest parts of the Reverse. I would just keep it as a nice 160 year old keepsake. It has almost no net worth.

Re: 1859 brass cent

Posted: Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:27 pm
by JRM
Thank you for the info Bill, much appreciated.

Rick