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HomeUS Coins1796 Liberty Cap Cent : A Collector's Guide

1796 Liberty Cap Cent : A Collector’s Guide

The United States Mint used six obverses and six reverses (as understood in 1901) to create 11 die marriages for the 1796 Liberty Cap cent, the last year of the type. The coin features finer border milling than previous issues. 974,000 were struck.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-81

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-81. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-81. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Rarity-3.

  • NGC MS-64BN #3607721-003: Edward Miller, prior to 1893; William Hesslein, April 1916, Lot 322; Henry C. Hines; Dr. William H. Sheldon; T. James Clarke, December 1954; “The R.E. ‘Ted’ Naftzger, Jr. Collection”, New Netherlands Coin Co., November 1973, Lot 400; Andrew M. Hain; Dennis E. Steinmetz; Steve Ivy, August 1980, Lot 943; Anthony Terranova; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999, Lot 1708. As NGC MS-64BN #3607721-003. Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98020 – $47,000. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.
  • PCGS MS-63BN CAC #25613291: S.H. & H. Chapman, March 1883, Lot 297; Lorin G. Parmelee; “The Lorin G. Parmelee Collection”, New York Coin & Stamp Co., June 1890, Lot 729; “The M.A. Brown Collection”, S.H. & H. Chapman, April 1897, Lot 765; “The George H. Earle Collection”, Henry Chapman, June 1912, Lot 3396; “The Clarence S. Bement Collection”, Henry Chapman, May 1916, Lot 300; Colonel James W. Ellsworth, March 1923; Wayte Raymond; Henry C. Hines; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 19, 1972; R.E. Naftzger, Jr., February 23, 1992; Eric Streiner, January 1993; Anthony J. Terranova; Kevin Lipton Rare Coins, August 1997; “Thomas D. Reynolds; “The Thomas D. Reynolds Collection”, Goldberg Auctioneers, January 2016, Lot 59. As PCGS MS-63BN CAC #25613291. “The Arizona Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 12, 2022, Lot 3014 – $40,800.
  • PCGS MS-63BN #13470529: “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, Lot 96 – $250; T. James Clarke, 1944; B. Max Mehl, 1949; Dr. William H. Sheldon; Dorothy Paschal, November 1975; Denis W. Loring; Ed Hipps; Steve Ivy, Lot 944 – $8,600; Alan J. Prescot, February 1996; Denis W. Loring, February 1997; Alan J. Kollar; Superior, May 2005, Lot 1016 – $55,200. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2082 – $74,750. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.
  • PCGS MS-62BN #6594795: Gene Sherman, January 1999; “The Robert C. Clark Collection”, Bowers and Merena, August 2000, Lot 254. As PCGS MS-62 #6594795. Heritage Auctions, August 14, 2006, Lot 5036 – $40,250; “The Joshua Collection”, Heritage Auctions, July 31, 2008, Lot 1505 – $37.375; “The ESM Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 6, 2020, Lot 1018 – $20,400.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-82

Rarity-4+. Pole attached to bust. Triple leaf under AM and UN on reverse.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #35327644: Peter Mougey; William H. Woodin; Thomas L. Elder, September 1919, Lot 21; As “Proof”. “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, Fixed Price List of 1929, Lot 97; T. James Clarks, 1949; William H. Sheldon, April 1972; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, February 1992; Eric Streiner; Stack’s, October 2000, Lot 61; “John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1025 – $22,800. CC#2, double struck, with micro porous surfaces, nearly perfect die state, bulge upper left corner, Breen Die State 1.A.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-83

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-83. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).
1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-83. Image: Heritage Auctions (visit www.ha.com).

Rarity-4+. End of pole touches bust by die break.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #13470531: Virgil M. Brand; Carl Wurtzbach; Charles R. Mathewson, 1944; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 1972; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 1992; Eric Streiner; John Whitney Walter; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999, Lot 1710 – $24,150; Anthony Terranova. As PCGS MS-62BN #13470531. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2084 – $43,125. Husak Collection on insert; Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98021 – $47,000.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-84

Sheldon-84. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-84. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Rarity-3. Low 6 variety. Denticles on all 1796 cents are weak at the 9 o’clock position on obverse and reverse. Well pronounced on the reverse at 3 o’clock.

  • PCGS MS-66+RB #32189856: Major William Boerum Wetmore; “the Major William Boerum Wetmore Collection”, Henry and S. Hudson Chapman, June 1906, Lot 549 – $125; Dr. Lewis H. Adler; B. Max Mehl, en bloc, by sale, March 1917; Dr. Henry W. Beckwith; “The Dr. Henry W. Beckwith Collection”, S. Hudson Chapman, April 1923, Lot 8 – $185; Henry Chapman; Dr. George P. French Collection; B. Max Mehl, by sale, en bloc, 1929; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, Fixed Price List, 1930, Lot 107 – $300; T. James Clarke Collection; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr. Collection, by sale, en bloc, April 1954; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger estate, October 2007; Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2008, Lot 173. As PCGS MS-66+RB #32189856. “The D. Brent Pogue Family Collection, Part V”, Stack’s Bowers / Sotheby’s, March 17, 2017 – $705,000. Pedigree research assisted by Stack’s Bowers. Pogue novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS-65BN: William H. Sheldon; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr.; “R.Werner Family Collection of 1796 Coinage”, Stack’s Bowers, August 19, 2012, Lot 11168 – $205,625.
  • NGC MS-65BN: H.O. Granberg to William H. Woodin; “Collection of a Prominent American”, United States Coin Company, May 1915, Lot 171 – $40; Howard R. Newcomb; “The Newcomb Collection, Part I”, J.C. Morgenthau and Co., February 1945, Lot 87 – $260; “The Charles H. Deetz Collection”, Stack’s, November 1946, Lot 1753 – $175; Christian M. Petersen – $225; Hollinbeck Coin Company, October 1953, Lot 280 – $410; Glen Wallace to Abe Kosoff; RARCOA, May 1974, Lot 828 – $1,550; Douglas Robbins; Bowers and Ruddy, Rare Coin Reviews #22-24 (Spring 1974 to Autumn 1975) – $4,900; Auction ’86 – Stack’s , July 1986, Lot 8 – $5,500; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999. As NGC MS-65BN. “The Robert Michael Prescott Collection”, American Numismatic Rarities, January 3, 2006, Lot 25 – $64,400.
  • PCGS MS-64RB CAC #28173067: “The Oakes Collection of Large Cents”, Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2014, Lot 5123 – $141,000. Oakes on insert.
  • PCGS MS-64BN #13470532: Francis H. Lee, circa 1913; Essex Institute; Stack’s February 1975, Lot 136 – $2,000; Stack’s; “The Herman Halpern Collection”, Stack’s, March 1988, Lot 116 – $7,150; Anthony Terranova, March 1988; “The R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr. Collection, Early American Coppers, April 1989, Lot 57 – $7,500; “The Robinson S. Brown, Jr. Collection”, Superior, January 1996, Lot 119 – $15,400; Douglas F. Bird; Dennis Mendelson; Thomas D. Reynolds, January 1997. As PCGS MS-64BN #13470532. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2085 – $115,000. Husak Collection on insert; Legend Numismatics, September 25, 2009; Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98022 – $82,250.
  • PCGS MS-61BN #13291797: “The John E. Burton Collection”, W. Elliot Woodward, October 1881, Lot 147 – $50; “The Richard B. Winsor Collection”, S.H. and H. Chapman, December 1895, Lot 846 – $63; Virgil M. Brand; B.G. Johnson, January 17, 1944 – $125; Arthur C. Fritz; Rudolph Khol; Federal Coin Exchange, 1952 Fixed Price List – $250; Federal Coin Exchange, August 1954, Lot 1018 – $215; Nethercutt Chemical Co.; Paramount, August 1967, Lot 2131 – $475; “The Dr. Lloyd M. Higgins Collection”, Bowers and Merena, January 1988, Lot 61 – $7,700; Dr. Robert J. Shalowitz; Jim McGuigan; “The Tom Morley Collection”, Superior, May 1992, Lot 250 – $13,200; John B. MacDonald, April 7, 1997; W.M. Wadlington (via Bob Grellman and Chris Victor-McCawley, June 30, 2005; Dan Holmes. As PCGS MS-61BN #13291797. “The Dan Holmes Collection, Part I”, Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2009, Lot 138. “The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2014, Lot 2538 – $23,500.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-85

Rarity-5. Low 6 variety with wreath away from F on reverse.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #13470533: “The Ebenezer Gilbert Collection”, Thomas Elder, July 1909, Lot 695 – $41; H.O. Granberg; “The William H. Woodin Collection”, United States Coin Co., May 1915, Lot 166 – $32; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, lot 102 – $250; T. James Clarke, 1944; B. Max Mehl, 1948; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 1972; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 1992; Eric Streiner, May 1992; John Whitney Walter; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999, Lot 1713 – $25,300. As PCGS MS-62BN #13470533. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2086 – $54,625. Husak Collection on insert; Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98023 – $47,000.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-86

Rarity-5. Low 6. Ghost leaf under T on the reverse.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #13291798: “The M.A. Brown Collection”, S.H. & H. Chapman, April 1897, Lot 767; Chapman Brothers; “The William F. Gable Collection”, S.H. Chapman, May 1914, Lot 1268; Elmer S. Sears; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, lot 109; T. James Clarke; B. Max Mehl; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 19, 1972; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 23, 1992; Eric Streiner May 1992; John Whitney Walter; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999, Lot 1714; Jack Wadlington, via Bob Grellman and Chris McCawley, June 30, 2005; Daniel W. Holmes, Jr. As PCGS MS-62BN #13291798. “The Daniel W. Holmes, Jr. Collection”, Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2009, Lot 140. Dan Holmes Collection on insert. Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98024 – $38,187.50.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-87

Rarity-3. Low 6, doubled leaf left of ONE on the reverse.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #13291799: Thomas L. Elder, May 15, 1943; Leonard M. Holland; Pennypacker Auction Centre, May 1959 – $275; Dorothy Paschal; Dr. William H. Sheldon April 19, 1972; R.E. Naftzger, Jr. February 23, 1992; Eric Streiner; Dennis Mendelson; Dr. Philip W. Ralls, May 2, 1997; W.M. “Jack” Wadlington; Bob Grellman & Chris McCawley May 30, 2005; Daniel W. Holmes. As PCGS MS-62BN #13291799. “The Daniel W. Holmes Collection, Part I”, Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2009, Lot 141. Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98025 – $28,200.
  • PCGS AU-53 #81895988: Adam Mervis; “The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection”, Heritage Auctions, January 2014, lot 2542; Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1026 – $13,200. Breen Die State III, EAC EF40, Bland CC#7.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-88

Rarity-4. Club pole. Balanced date. L of LIBERTY touches the cap.

  • NGC MS-63BN #3607721-002: David Proskey; Henry C. Hines; Lillian Scheer, 1948; New Netherlands, August 1952, Lot 1724; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 19, 1972; R.E.”Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 23, 1992; Eric Streiner, May 1992; John Whitney Walter; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, September 2009, Lot 1717. As NGC MS-63BN #3607721-002. Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98026 – $58.750.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-89

Rarity-3. Crowded Head variety. Low LIBERTY and high date.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-90

Rarity-5+. Crowded Head obverse. Double leaf under T on reverse.

  • PCGS MS-62BN #50004406: “The Henry C. Miller Collection”, Thomas Elder, April 1917, Lot 724; “The Lewis C. Gehring Collection”, Thomas Elder, August 1921, Lot 889; “The Dr. George P. French Collection”, B. Max Mehl, 1929 Fixed Price List, Lot 105; T. James Clarke; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 19, 1972; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 23, 1992; Eric Streiner; John Whitney Walter; “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 4, 1999, Lot 1720; Heritage Auctions, October 27, 2014, Lot 98027 – $38,187.50. Whitney on insert. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.
  • PCGS AU-55 #13470538: John P. Young; M.H. Bolender, September 1951, Lot 55 – $260; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr.; Robert Gildred; Kagin’s, October 1983, Lot 1021 – $6,600; Dr. C.R. Chambers, October 1989; Dennis Mendelson, July 1991; “The Robinson S. Brown, Jr. Collection”, Superior, January 1996, Lot 125 – $10,450. As PCGS AU-55 #13470538. “The Walter J. Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 15, 2008, Lot 2091 – $37,375. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions.

1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-91

Sheldon-91. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1796 Liberty Cap Cent, Sheldon-91. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Rarity-3. Wide date variety. Final Sheldon number of the series. Die defects develop at and to the right of 6 on the date; swelling at STATES on reverse.

  • PCGS MS-66BN CAC #13666809: Discovered in England in 1956 and acquired privately by Stack’s in January 1957; Dorothy Paschal; Dr. William H. Sheldon, April 1972; R. E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 1992; Eric Streiner; Jay Parrino, April 1996; Jack Wadlington via Bob Grellman and Chris McCawley, November 2005; “The Dan Holmes Collection, Part I:, Goldberg Auctioneers, September 2009, lot 147; Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation; “The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation”, Stack’s Bowers, January 22, 2013, Lot 13007 – $223,250.
  • PCGS AU-58 CAC #13470539: Col. E.H.R. Green; B.G. Johnson as St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co., August 1942; James G. Macallister; J.C. Morgenthau, January 1944, Lot 420 – $155; George H. Clapp; American Numismatic Society; Dr. William H. Sheldon; Dorothy Paschal; “The Robinson S. Brown, Jr. Collection”, Superior Galleries, September 1986, Lot 119 – $5,775; Dr. Allen Bennett, April 1992; Eric Streiner. As “Choice AU-55, if not finer”. “The John Whitney Walter Collection”, Stack’s, May 1999, Lot 1721. Walter J. Husak. As PCGS AU-58 CAC #13470539. “Walter Husak Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 2008, Lot 2092 – $43,125; Eugene H. Gardner; “The Eugene H. Gardner Collection, Part II”, Heritage Auctions, October 2014; Lot 98028 – $34,075; Thaddeus A. Tatum III; “The Collection of Thaddeus A. Tatum III”, Stack’s Bowers, August 15, 2018, Lot 1027 – $26,400.

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Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1796
Denomination: One Cent (USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 974,000
Alloy: Copper
Weight: 10.89 g
Diameter: 29.00 mm
Edge: Plain
OBV Designer John Smith Gardner
REV Designer John Smith Gardner
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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