Monumental Gem Red 1807/6 Large Cent -Far and Away the Finest Known
1807/6 Draped Bust Cent. S-273. Rarity-1. Large 7, Pointed 1. MS-66 RD (PCGS). OGH. CAC.
This incredible red Gem delivers an unrivaled and captivating aesthetic, matched by an equally impressive provenance that traces it through some of the most significant hands in U.S. numismatics.
It’s uniform and vibrant red-orange luster generously blankets every facet of this Draped Bust jewel, a complexion typically reserved for the most well preserved Braided Hair cents, which were produced five decades later.
The large cents of 1807 proved to be the swan song for Robert Scot’s Draped Bust design which had seen service since 1796. Struck in large quantities over its 12 year run, the Draped Bust cents have long proven to be among the most popular as well as most readily accessible of all the early large cents to collectors of all stripes and financial means. Mint records show that 829,221 pieces were struck in 1807 more than double that of the previous year. Six die pairings have been identified for all the 1807 cents, including two dramatic overdates and the famous “Comet” variety.
By far the more common of the two overdates, the Sheldon-273 obverse die was only used here, while the reverse die with the Small Fraction was also shared among the S-271 and S-272 cents.
Breen suggested that this obverse was actually originally prepared in 1805 but without the date. In 1806, the die was then finished, but the cent press broke down before any coins could be produced utilizing this die. Finally in 1807, the 6 was rather hastily overpunched with a 7 and the die found use here with the S-273 die marriage.
The S-273 is easily discerned from the other overdate marriage, S-272, by the diagnostic Pointed 1 and Large 7 in the date. Less obvious but no less important die markers include placement of the 18 much closer to the denticle than the rest of the numerals in the date. In addition, this particular obverse die is characterized by the differing placement of LIBERTY in relation to Liberty’s hair as well as the closeness of LIB to each other as compared to the rest of the letters.
In Stacks Bowers January 2013 Americana Sale they offered The Cardinal Collection as part of the Rarities Night auction, exhibiting nearly 100 lots of the finest quality and most exceptional rarities from this legendary assemblage. The highlight of this collection, the Specimen-66 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar, realized over $10 million dollars and set a new world record for any coin sold at auction.
While this numismatic Titan was the unrivaled jewel of the collection, the accompanying offering of large cents featured some of the finest known examples extant, spanning from the Flowing Hair through the Braided Hair series.
Noted large cent specialist Chris McCawley summarized the offering of large cents in the Cardinal Collection as representing “the cream of the crop” and “the best of the best,” and these accolades were thoroughly substantiated by the unmatched quality of the coins themselves.
In Martin Logies’ introduction to the Collection, he enthusiastically describes the allure of large cents and his passionate quest to acquire only the very finest examples, however, he mentions an “amazing fully Red Superb Gem 1807 cent” as the one piece withheld from that sale. Now, over two year later, the numismatic market finally has the opportunity to savor this “amazing Gem”, and it surely has been worth the wait.
What stands profoundly remarkable is the level preservation that has been maintained over the two centuries since the striking of this beautiful piece. While similar Draped Bust cents have managed to evade mishandling and abrasion nearly as well as the current offering, it is the vibrant persistence of the original Red Mint luster that remains extraordinarily enigmatic.
That the surfaces have gone entirely unexposed and unoxidized for more than 200 years suggests a deliberateness of care and an emphasis on preservation that few numismatic treasures have ever been blessed with. The anomaly of this complexion was noted at the coin’s first appearance at public auction, in the S. H. Chapman Beckwith catalog of 1923, which states:
“Brilliant, bright red original color as if freshly coined. In a note accompanying the piece Dr. Beckwith states ‘Given to Col. Joshua Pierce of Portsmouth, Me. the year of his birth (1807). In 1909 his son R. C. Pierce, gave it to C. A. Hazlett. Both were officers of Piscataqua Savings Bank of Portsmouth. This information was given to me by Mr. Hazlett in August, 1917.’ Extraordinary Gem.”
In fact, this coins represents the finest Red Draped Bust cent graded by PCGS from any year of issue, 1796-1807. Only two other coins, an 1801 and an 1803 Small Date, Small Fraction, have been awarded a Red designation, but these MS-64 examples sit fathoms below the pristine nature of the 1807/6 presented here.
For the most astute collector of early copper or exceptional U.S. type coins, Stacks Bowers is offering this monumental coin in the 2015 ANA Rarities Night Auction as Lot # 10028, which represents the opportunity for the acquisition of a truly world-class rarity, that makes a public auction appearance on average of once per century.
PCGS# 1530. NGC ID: 224M.
Pedigree: From The Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation. Earlier ex Colonel Joshua Pierce, received as a gift in 1807, the year of his birth; later to son R.C. Pierce; C.A. Hazlett, 1909; Dr. Henry W. Beckwith, August 1917; S.H. Chapman’s sale of the Dr. Henry W. Beckwith Collection, April 1923, lot 37; S.H. Chapman; Anthony J. Terranova; R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr., February 1992; Eric Streiner; Jay Parrino (The Mint); Superior’s sale of the Dr. Juan XII Suros Collection, February 1999, lot 16; Stewart Blay.
PCGS Population: 1; none finer. The only Red 1807/6 Large 7 example certified by PCGS.