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HomeUS Coins1793 Liberty Cap Cent : A Collector's Guide

1793 Liberty Cap Cent : A Collector’s Guide

The third cent design issued in 1793, engraver Joseph Wright’s Liberty Cap cent was a major improvement over the designs produced by the United States Mint to this point. Wright based his depiction of Liberty on the Libertas Americana of French engraver Augustin Dupré. In 1794, the design would be modified following the death of Wright. That issue, with its robust mintage and many varieties, would capture collector fascination for generations and serve as the basis of the Sheldon Scale as expounded by Dr. William Sheldon in his book Penny Whimsy (1958).

Nevertheless, its precursor, the 1793 design, is equally coveted, being many times more scarce and superior in its artistic merit.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-12

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-12. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-12. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
  • PCGS VF-35 #13457489: Virgil M. Brand; B.G. Johnson, August 1945 – $170; James Kelly; Hollinbeck-Kagin Coin Co.; James Kelly, 1961 ANA Sale, Lot 1407 – $2,400; Federal Brand, October 1961, Lot 1480; Hollinbeck-Kagin, June 1963, Lot 344; Stack’s, May 1979, Lot 45 – $11,500; R.E. Naftzger, Jr., February 1992; Eric Streiner; Chris Victor-McCawley; Dr. Robert J. Shalowitz; Chris Victor-McCawley, September 1994; Chris Kromer; Superior, February 2001, Lot 2115 – $69,000. Walter J. Husak; As PCGS VF-35 #13457489. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2013 – $92,000. Husak Collection on insert. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.
  • PCGS VF-25 #26642092: John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University (privately, March 1973; John W. Adams, March 1973; Denis W. Loring, March 1973; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr.; 1990 EAC Sale, May 1990, Lot 17; “The Daniel W. Holmes Collection”, Goldberg, September 2009, Lot 22. As PCGS VF-25 #26642092. “The Wes Rasmussen Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2013, Lot 5522 – $82,250. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-13

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-13. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-13. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Rarity-4. The most frequently encountered 1793 Liberty Cap Cent variety. Described in Edward Cogan’s November 1, 1858 sale.

  • PCGS AU-58 #32189845: Joseph J. Mickley Collection, before 1867; “The Joseph J. Mickley Collection”, W. Elliot Woodward, October 1867, Lot 1933 – $55; L. Bayard Smith Collection; unknown intermediaries; Virgil Brand; Horace and Armin Brand, by descent, June 1926; Armin W. Brand, by court order, 1937; Burdette G. Johnson, by consignment, February 1941; uncertain intermediaries; Dr. William H. Sheldon Collection; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr. Collection, by sale, en bloc, April 1972; Eric Streiner, by sale, en bloc, via Stack’s, February 1992; Jay Parrino; Superior Galleries, February 1998, Lot 790; Walter J. Husak; As PCGS AU-55 #13457488. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 2008, lot 2014 – $632,000, via Larry Hanks. Husak Collection on insert; D. Brent Pogue Family; As PCGS AU58 #32189845. “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V”, March 31, 2017, Lot 5090 – $940,000. Pogue novelty insert. Brand on insert. Pedigree research assisted by Stack’s Bowers.
  • PCGS AU-55 #32189847: Rodney T. Grove; Robert Nofal and Lewis Kling; Auction ’81 – Superior Stamp & Coin Company, July 1981, Lot 509 – $21,000; Denis W. Loring; Herman Halpern, by sale, July 1985; “The Herman Halpern Collection”, Stack’s, March 1988, Lot 15 – $24,200. David Bloom, September 1988; John B. MacDonald; Denis W. Loring; Jon Alan Boka; “The Jon Alan Boka Collection”, Heritage Auctions, September 2011, Lot 3003; Cardinal Collection; “The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation”, Stack’s Bowers, February 2013, lot 13003 via Richard Burdick. D. Brent Pogue Family. As PCGS AU-55 #32189847. “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V”, March 31, 2017, Lot 5091 – $376,000. Pogue novelty insert. Brand on insert. As PCGS AU55 CAC #32189847. Stack’s Bowers, August 3, 2017, Lot 2009 – $270,250. CAC added. Pedigree research assisted by Stack’s Bowers.
  • PCGS AU-55 #25338682: Dr. Charles Clay; William H. Strobridge, December 1871, Lot 703 – $65; George M. Parsons; “The Lorin G. Parmelee Collection”, New York Coin & Stamp Co., June 1890, Lot 676 – $85; Ed Frossard; “The Henry Beckwith Collection, Samuel Hudson Chapman, April 1923, Lot 3 – $330; Henry Chapman; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, Lot 15; H.A. Stoddard; B. Max Mehl; “The Charles J. Dupont Collection”, Stack’s, September 1954, Lot 22 – $1,500; “The TAD Collection (Dorothy Nelson), Stack’s, February 1976, Lot 9 – $14,000; Stack’s, January 1997, Lot 414 – $71,500; Anthony Terranova; Dr. Eugene Sherman; Anthony Terranova; The Massachusetts Collection. As PCGS AU-55 #25338682. “The Oliver Jung Collection”, Heritage Auctions, August 7, 2014, Lot 5522 – $329,000. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.
  • NGC AU-53BN #2046415-005: “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; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society, April 16, 1985. As NGC AU-53BN #2046415-005. “Selections from the Eric P. Newman Collection, Part V”, Heritage Auctions, November 14, 2014, Lot 3087 – $129,250. As PCGS AU53 #25684353. “The ESM Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 6, 2020, Lot 1007 – $108,000.

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-14

Sheldon-14. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-14. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Rarity-5. Notable for the bisecting die crack on the obverse.

  • PCGS AU-53+ #32189846: Purchased in England from a non-collector by James F. Ruddy in 1962; Q. David Bowers; Lester Merkin; Charles Jay; “The Charles Jay Collection”, Stack’s, October 1967, Lot 91; unknown intermediaries; Anthony Terranova; Herman Halpern, by sale; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., by trade, December 1986; Eric Streiner, by sale, en bloc, via Stack’s, February 1992; Jay Parrino, by sale; Jack Wadlington, by sale, May 1996; Daniel W. Holmes, Jr. Collection, by sale, via Chris McCawley and Bob Grellman, June 2005; ” The Dan Holmes Collection”,Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2009, Lot 24, via Larry Hanks. D. Brent Pogue Family. As PCGS AU-53+ #32189846. “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V”, Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 31, 2017, Lot 5092 – $235,000; Stack’s Bowers, August 25, 2022 – $192,000. Pedigree research assisted by Stack’s Bowers.
  • PCGS AU-53 #19802158: Henry Whiteley, inherited from his grandparents; Benjamin H. Collins April 14, 1896; Dr. Thomas Hall, September 7, 1909; Virgil M. Brand, 1934; Armin Brand, February 7, 1941; B.G. Johnson, June 14, 1944; James P. Randall; “The Frederic W. Geiss Collection”, B. Max Mehl, February 1947, Lot 10 (or possibly 11) – $400; Rodney T. Grove; Robert Nofal and Lewis Kling; Superior Stamp & Coin Co.; Auction ’81 – Superior Stamp & Coin Co., August 1981, Lot 509; Denis W. Loring, July 1985; “The Herman Halpern Collection”, Stack’s, March 1988, Lot 15; David Bloom, September 1988; John B. MacDonald; Denis W. Loring, February 26, 2000; Jon Alan Boka. As PCGS AU-53 #19802158. “The Jon Alan Boka Copperheads Collection”, Heritage Auctions, September 8, 2011, Lot 3003 – $253,000.
  • PCGS XF-45 #13457487: A.H. Baldwin & Sons, Ltd., London, May 1954; “The Norweb Collection”, Bowers and Merena, November 1988, Lot 2697 – $26,500; Anthony Terranova; Auction ’89 – David Akers, Lot 1004 – $30,800; Samuel Spatzer; Douglas F. Bird and Lou Rasera; Daniel W. Holmes, Jr. “Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2015 – $126,500.
  • PCGS VF-35 #25673204: “Henry C. Miller Collection”, Thomas L. Elder, April 1917, Lot 644 – $102.50; Henry C. Hines; Dr. William H. Sheldon; Sheraton Coin Co.; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 1972; “R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr. Collection”, New Netherlands Coin Company, November 1973, Lot 336 – $3,250; First Coinvestors; Pine Tree Auctions, February 1975, Lot 599 – $3,500; William R.T. Smith; Jack H. Beymer; Albert Ault; Alfred K. Nippert, Jr.; Heritage Auctions, September 2015, Lot 3688 – $76,375. “The Collection of Thaddeus A. Tatum III”, Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1020 – $57,600. Pedigree research assisted by Stack’s Bowers.

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-15

Rarity-6. Known as “The Aristocrat”. Fewer than 300 or 400 likely struck.

  • NGC VG-10 #2038647-002: “The W.B. Guy Collection”, Henry Chapman, November 1911, Lot 350; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, Lot 17; Charles M. Williams, privately, via Abe Kosoff; “The Floyd T. Starr Collection”, Stack’s, June 1984, Lot 23; “The Jack Robinson Collection”, Superior, January 1989, Lot 20; The Daniel W. Holmes Collection”, Goldberg, September 2009, Lot 26. As NGC VG-10 #2038647-002. “The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2014, Lot 2424 – $82,250.

1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-16

Sheldon-16. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1793 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-16. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).

Rarity-6. The second scarcest variety of 1793 Liberty Cap Cent. Fewer than 700 struck, per numismatist Walter Breen. Unknown in high circulated conditions or better.

  • PCGS VF-35 #29584824: Heritage Auctions, February 2015, Lot 4920 – $111,625; “The Arizona Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2022, Lot 3006 – $132,000.
  • Fine: American Numismatic Society Collection.
  • PCGS VG-10 #26642091: Dr. Charles L. Ruby, December 1972; “The Dr. Charles L. Ruby Collection”, Superior, February 1974, Lot 335 – $1,800; “The Philip Van Cleave Collection”, Kagin’s, January 1986, Lot 5018 – $4.950; “The Jack H. Robinson Collection”, Superior, January 1989, Lot 21 – $14,300; Dr. Robert J. Shalowitz, September 15, 1989; “The Daniel W. Holmes Collection”, Goldberg Coins, September 2009, Lot 27. As PCGS VG-10 #26642091. “The Wes Rasmussen Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2013, Lot 5521 – $41,125. Reverse rotated 175°.
  • PCGS VG-10 #13457486: Thomas Elder, July 1913, Lot 573 – $60; “The Charles M. Williams Collection”, Numismatic Gallery, November 1950, Lot 14A – $177.50; Christian M. Petersen; “The Dr. Charles L. Ruby Collection, Part III”, Superior, February 1975, Lot 16 – $1,200; Denis W. Loring. As NCS VF Details – Environmental Damage #5077463-067. “The Jules Reiver Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 2006, Lot 19172 – $32,200. As PCGS VG10 #13457486. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2016 – $46,000.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1793
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 11,056
Alloy: Copper
Weight: 13.48 g (Lettered Edge); 10.89 g (Plain Edge)
Diameter: 29.00 mm
Edge: Lettered: ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR + leaf; Plain
OBV Designer Joseph Wright
REV Designer Joseph Wright
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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