A 1794 (S-24) U.S. large cent has been returned to the American Numismatic Society (ANS) by the Husak family after they realized that the coin in the family’s Liberty Cap Foundation Collection had been stolen from the ANS decades ago. The coin was originally part of the George H. Clapp Collection of U.S. large cents, one of the greatest of such collections ever created, which was donated to the American Numismatic Society in 1946.
In the years after the Clapp donation, Dr. William H. Sheldon began researching the ANS collection of large cents and swapped 129 of his own large cents for those from the Clapp Collection, matching the exact die variety to conceal the substitution. Through the years, many of the 129 stolen coins have been repatriated to the ANS collection. With the latest return, 44 coins remain unrecovered.
The 1794 large cent was couriered by Chuck Heck, an ANS member and prominent expert on large cents, who confirmed the Husak family’s suspicions that the coin was among those stolen from the ANS collection and was authorized to act as an agent on behalf of the family. Pending approval of the Board of Trustees, the ANS plans to give the coin that Sheldon swapped for the stolen coin to the Husak family. The ANS has routinely given the coins that Sheldon switched out to those who return the stolen large cents, which often remain highly valuable and desirable objects.
Dr. Gilles Bransbourg, ANS Executive Director, remarked:
“We are incredibly grateful for the Husak family coming forward with this item after discovering its history and restoring it to the ANS collection, where it will become available to the public again. I also deeply appreciate the efforts and support of our longtime member and friend, Chuck Heck. Such days shape our history as the oldest numismatic institution in the U.S.”
Dr. Jesse Kraft, ANS Resolute Americana Assistant Curator of American Numismatics, reflected on the return:
“It was truly amazing to experience the return of this large cent. After about 75 years of being away from its brothers and sisters, this coin is finally back home. The efforts of the Husak family and the example they have set are admirable.”
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The American Numismatic Society (ANS), organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is recognized as a publicly supported organization under section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) as confirmed on November 1, 1970.