Condition Census Example
Tied for Sixth Finest Known
1793 1C Chain, AMERICA, S-2, B-2, High R.4, MS63 Brown PCGS Secure. CAC. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 specified that the copper cents were "each to be the value of the one hundredth part of a dollar, and to contain eleven penny-weights of copper." The weight of 11 pennyweight, or 264 grains, heavier than the brass Continental Currency coins. Congress reduced the weight to 208 grains when they amended the Mint Act on January 14, 1793 in what may be one of the shortest Acts ever passed:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That every cent shall contain two hundred and eight grains of copper, and every half cent shall contain one hundred and four grains of copper; and that so much of the act, entitled "An act establishing a mint, and regulating the coins of the United States," as respects the weight of cents and half cents, shall be, and the same is hereby repealed."
The first copper coins struck at the fledgling U.S. Mint in Philadelphia were the Chain cents, beginning with Sheldon-1, the famous Chain AMERI. cent. Using the same obverse die and a new reverse die with AMERICA spelled in full, the Sheldon-2 cents, including this example, were struck next. These were followed by a small number of Sheldon NC-1 cents, a large number of Sheldon-3 cents, and finally, the Sheldon-4 Periods cents that had a small period following the date and LIBERTY. In his Large Cent Encyclopedia, Walter Breen suggested that the first two varieties were delivered on March 1, 1793. Although there is no proof, current rarity ratings support his hypothesis. If current rarity ratings are proportional to the number of coins struck, the mintage for this variety was about 3,400 coins.
Breen Die State II, with a bulge through the date and light obverse clash marks. Most of Liberty's hair is intricately detailed, and the chain is bold. Although shy of a full strike, this example is sharper than most other Census-level examples that have blunt striking. The slightest friction is noted on Liberty's cheek, ear, and highest hair strands. A trace of friction is also apparent on the highest points of the chain. The splendid tan and olive-brown surfaces exhibit full cartwheel luster with hints of faded mint red that appear in some orientations to a light source. The obverse has an old scratch to the left from Liberty's eye to the hairline, and a small nick on the neck. Myriad microscopic planchet marks illustrate the original planchet appearance. The reverse is pristine with a line-like planchet lamination from the last A of AMERICA to the TE of UNITED. A tiny rim nick described in the 1985 Bowers and Merena catalog is located on the obverse rim at 4 o'clock and covered by the tab of the holder. Both sides have a high wire edge and excellent centering.
Following the conservative grading standards of Early American Coppers members, Del Bland grades this piece AU50, tied for seventh finest known behind an MS61 and five pieces graded AU55. Bill Noyes grades this piece AU50 as well, and tied for the sixth finest known behind an MS62, three AU55 coins, and another piece that he grades AU50. Among all five varieties of Chain cents, there are only a dozen examples that grade finer than AU50 in the Noyes Census, and 16 finer pieces in the Bland census. However, it is our opinion that an EAC grade of AU55 is appropriate, and further that this lovely Chain cent is one of the seven or eight finest Chain cents of any variety.
PCGS has certified 16 Chain cents in all Mint State grades, including five that grade MS63 Brown, two that are graded MS64 Brown, two in MS65 Brown, one in MS65 Red and Brown, and one in MS66 Brown. NGC has assigned Mint State grades to 10 Chain cents, including one MS63 Brown, two MS64 Brown, two MS65 Brown, one MS66 Brown, and one MS66 Red and Brown. Several of the coins graded by these two services appear more than once on the population charts (10/17).
Large cents rank among the most popular U.S. coins today, as they have for the past 150 years. This lovely Chain cent is a most impressive example that will receive a great deal of interest from type collectors, date collectors, Guide Book variety collectors, and large cent specialists. All of those categories are represented in the PCGS Set Registry program where we expect to find this Select Mint State piece after the sale. Our EAC grade AU55.
Ex: Hollinbeck Stamp and Coin Co. (1/1951), lot 375; Willard C. Blaisdell; Kenneth M. Goldman; Dennis R. Heller; Norman W. Pullen; Bowers and Merena (6/1985), lot 461; Kenneth M. Goldman and Anthony Terranova; Norman Stack Collection; Eric Streiner; Mark Yaffe, Ron Karp, and Martin Paul.
From The Jenkins Family Collection. (NGC ID# 223F, Variety PCGS# 35435, Base PCGS# 1341)
Weight: 13.48 grams
Metal: 100% Copper