With copper needed for the war effort, the U.S. Mint experimented with a variety of alternative materials for cents in 1942. Pattern (or test) cents were struck in bronze, brass, zinc, zinc-coated steel, manganese, white metal, aluminum, lead, rubber, fiber, plastic and even glass.
Ultimately, zinc-coated steel was selected for 1943 U.S. cents.
The glass patterns were struck by Blue Ridge Glass Corp., of Kingsport, Tennessee, using blanks supplied by Corning Glass Works and dies prepared by U.S. Mint engraver John Sinnock. The 1942-dated obverse was based on the then-circulating Columbia two centavos while the reverse featured a design proposed by Anthony Paquet in the 19th century.
SEVEN INTACT CENTS
The group certified by NGC includes nine of these pattern glass cents, of which seven are intact and two are fragments. All are struck on amber-coloured glass blanks. The grades of the intact specimens range from Mint State-62 to Mint State-64 while the fragmented pieces were attributed but not graded.
Numismatists were previously aware of only two Blue Ridge glass pattern cents, one of which was a fragment.
EIGHT GLASS TOKENS
Also recently certified by NGC are eight glass tokens struck at the same time as the glass cents by the Blue Ridge Glass Corp. Three of these tokens were struck with a die depicting the factory with the text of “BLUE RIDGE GLASS CORP.” above. The others feature more modest design elements. The tokens have been graded Mint State-64 to Mint State-66 by NGC (except for two that are fragmented).
The fragmented pieces reveal the reason glass coins were not practical for circulation: they would break too easily.
Roger W. Burdette, author of the book United States Pattern and Experimental Pieces of World War II, noted the glass corporation had employees carry glass blanks in their pockets, but those blanks chipped and created sharp edges. These experimental glass pieces have been catalogued by Burdette and will appear in the next edition of his book. NGC used Burdette’s catalog numbers on its certification labels.
For more information or to view the 17 examples, visit NGCcoin.com/GlassCents.