17 experimental cents and tokens that were struck in glass during World War II were certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®). These pieces were struck in glass in order to test their composition for possible coinage, and can be viewed at NGCcoin.com/GlassCents.
The U.S. mint experimented with a number of metals in 1942, as copper was needed for materials for the war effort. Some of the metals tested for coins included aluminum, bronze, manganese, brass, white metal, zinc, zinc-coated steel, lead, fiber, plastic, rubber, and glass. The 1943 cent coins were eventually minted in zinc-coated steel.
With dies prepared by US Mint engraver John Sinnock and blanks supplied by Corning Glass Works, the patterns for the glass were struck by the Blue Ridge Glass Corporation in Kingsport, Tennessee. The obverse, dated 1942, was modeled after the Columbia Two Centavos, which were in circulation at the time. The reverse design was featured based on a proposal by Anthony Paquet in the 19th century.
NGC certified a group of nine of the pattern glass cents. Seven of the group are still intact, while two of the group are in fragments. All of the coins have been struck on glass blanks colored in amber, with grades of the intact specimens ranging from NGC MS 62 to NGC MS 64. The fragment pieces have been attributed, however, they have not been graded. Prior to this, numismatists were only aware of two Blue Ridge glass pattern cents, of which only one was intact.
Additionally eight glass tokens which were struck at the same time as the glass cents by the Blue Ridge Glass Corporation were certified. Three of these glass tokens were struck with a die featuring the factory, and have the text BLUE RIDGE GLASS CORP. The remaining tokens have more of a modest design, and all have been graded MS 64 to MS 66 by NGC, with the exception of two fragmented tokens.
Because of the fragmented coins, it was determined that glass coins would break too easily and would not be practical for circulation. It was noted by Roger W. Burdette, author of the book United States Pattern and Experimental Pieces of World War II, the that Blue Ridge Glass Corporation enlisted employees to carry glass blanks around in their pockets, which then chipped, resulting in sharp edges.
Cataloged by Burdette, the experimental glass pieces will appear in the next edition of his book, with NGC incorporating Burdette’s catalog numbers on their certification labels.
These 17 experimental glass cents and tokens that NGC has certified will be sold by Heritage Auctions on August 4, 2017, at the ANA World’s Fair of Money in Denver.