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Lot 3087


Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 3087
Date 1793
Side obverse
Grade 53
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 35489
Denomination 1C
Description 1793 1C Liberty Cap, S-13, B-20, Low R.4, AU53 NGC. Our EAC Grade XF40. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. Breen Die State I. Although the usefulness of the cent is debatable in present-day economics, the coin was an extremely convenient denomination for everyday purchases in the 1790s, and a staple of the early U.S. coinage system. One of the denominations authorized by the Mint Act of 1792, the cent made its debut in 1793, but the Flowing Hair design (both Chain and Wreath types) met with mixed reviews from the general public. Joseph Wright's aesthetically pleasing Liberty Cap design soon replaced the earlier issues, to popular acclaim. Wright was born in July of 1756, in Bordentown, New Jersey and the early 1770s found him living in London, where he established himself as an artist. Returning to this country in 1782, Wright became well known for his portraits of prominent public figures, including George and Martha Washington. He was also a first-class engraver and produced the dies for the Major Henry Lee medal. Mint Director David Rittenhouse appointed him acting engraver, and he began working at the Philadelphia Mint in August of 1793. Tragically, he died of yellow fever in September, after being employed at the Mint for only a few weeks. Wright based his design for the cent on the 1782 Libertas Americana medal, produced in France at the behest of Benjamin Franklin, from dies engraved by Augustin Dupre'. Six die varieties of the 1793 Liberty Cap cent are known to numismatists today, from combinations of four obverse and two reverse dies. The present coin is the S-13 variety, identified by the position of the L in LIBERTY nearly touching the beads at the obverse border, and the triple leaf cluster below OF on the reverse. The obverse portrait is in high relief; the reverse wreath is simpler than the device used on earlier issues, to avoid striking problems. Darwin B. Palmer's poll of EAC members rated the S-13 as the most beautiful of all 1793 cent varieties. The entire mintage of 1793 Liberty Cap cents, amounting to 11,056 pieces, was delivered on September 18, 1793, by Chief Coiner Henry Voigt. Like Augustus Saint-Gaudens more than a century later, it is doubtful that Joseph Wright lived to see his beautiful design in coinage form. The Mint closed its doors a few hours after the coins were delivered, to avoid the worst of the yellow fever epidemic, and only reopened on November 12. No more cents were struck until January of the following year. The old copper large cents were produced until 1857, when they were replaced by the smaller copper-nickel cents for economic reasons. Coin collecting became widely popular in this country at about the same time, with nostalgia for the vanishing coppers often credited as the cause. Certainly the old cents were among the most widely collected issues in the early days of the hobby. The first sale of a 1793 S-13 example we can identify for certain is the coin in lot 5 of the Private Collection of United States Cents (Edward Cogan, 11/1858). That coin realized $7.25, to pioneer coinage collector Joseph Mickley. More recent sales include the AU55 PCGS example in lot 2014 of the Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/2008), which realized $632,500. The present coin traces its history to the fabulous collection of "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, and from there to Eric P. Newman. It has thus been off the market for at least 78 years, and possibly much longer. During that time, it was not available for study by all but the most advanced specialists researching early coppers. This piece is listed in a tie for the number 12/13 position in the Official Condition Census for U.S. Large Cents by Bill Noyes. It was uncertified and assigned a grade in the VF range for that evaluation. It is currently certified as AU53 by NGC. Only one example of the S-13 1793 cent has been certified finer by either of the leading grading services (8/14). The coin offered here is an attractive AU53 example, with glossy brown surfaces that show hints of original luster. The design elements are lightly worn and a few minor abrasions are evident on close inspection, none unduly distracting. The overall presentation is quite appealing. Census: 1 in 53 Brown, 0 finer (8/14). Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric p. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $500.00 donated to the following on 4/16/1985; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $129250.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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