Description:Chain Cents were struck only briefly in 1793, replaced by the more available Wreath Cent type, presumably due to contemporary criticism of the chain device. The March 18, 1793 edition of Philadelphia’s The Mail, or Claypoole’s Daily Advertiser stated the opinion, “The chain on the reverse is but a bad omen for liberty.”

Five die varieties of 1793 Chain Cents exist, and four of these share a common reverse die, which has AMERICA on the left border instead of the abbreviation of Sheldon-1, AMERI. Among the four AMERICA reverses.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Heritage Auction Galleries

Sheldon-2 is the rarest, aside from the non-collectible NC-1 variety. S-2 is promptly identified by its wide date, and LIBER is spaced much more closely than RTY.

Sheldon-3 is identified principally by the location of the 3 in the date, which is right aligned with the tip of the bust, and the location of the R in LIBERTY, which was entered high and tilted to the right. The variety, while scarce in all grades, can be obtained with patience in well worn and corroded condition, sometimes attributable only by the R in LIBERTY since the date may be faint or absent altogether. Sharp examples that retain their mint gloss are extremely rare, and in demand from both early copper specialists and determined type set collectors.

Sheldon- 4 is the final Chain cent marriage. Closely spaced LIBERTY with I and E high. The date is also close, particularly the 93. Both legends are followed by periods, a unique occurrence in the Large cent series. This was likely an affectation on the part of the die engraver, rather than a deliberate but ephemeral subtype.


Designer: attributed to Henry Voight
Mintage: 36,103 Less the 5-10,000 estimated Ameri. Variety
Denomintion: One Cent
Diameter: ±27 millimeters
Metal content: 100% Copper
Weight: ±208 grains (±13.5 grams)


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