1793 1C Wreath, Vine and Bars Edge. AU50 PCGS. S-10, B-10, R.4. ...
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Equivalents. Crosby-Levick 8G; Frossard 8; Proskey 9; Doughty 9; Crosby 10-I; McGirk 2-J; EAC 10; Encyclopedia 1640; PCGS #1347.
Variety. Injured rim; the stem end is heavy. A period follows the legend. The obverse appears on S-10 and NC-5. The reverse appears on S-10 and NC-4. Vine and Bars Edge.
Surfaces. The obverse has attractive mahogany color, and the reverse has a combination of chocolate-brown and maroon. Both sides are subdued and attractive, with a single small edge bump over the O on the reverse. The sharpness is a few points finer than the net grade, with microscopic porosity on both sides.
Die State I. The obverse border flaw at 2:30 has weakened the beads at that location, although they all remain visible. The reverse has a crack outside the border beads over NITE.
Appearances. The obverse is illustrated on the Crosby-Levick plate. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006).
Census. Only four Mint State examples of this variety are known, and only a few others grade XF or better.
Commentary. Nine collectible Wreath cent varieties are known, along with two non-collectible varieties of the normal design, and two different non-collectible Strawberry Leaf varieties. The total population of all four non-collectible leaf cents is less than 10 coins. Sheldon devised the term Non-Collectible as a label for varieties with fewer than four examples known. The purpose was to ease the collecting burden, and the result is the prestige of completing a set of the "Sheldon numbers" without the necessity of an unlimited bankroll.
Walter Breen noted in his Large Cent Encyclopedia that George F. Seavey discovered this variety sometime before its 1869 appearance on the Crosby-Levick plate, although he provided no basis for his statement. If Breen is correct, then this coin is the discovery coin for the variety. Another candidate for discovery coin status is the Mint State coin that belonged to Sylvester Crosby, used for the reverse of the same plate.
Sylvester S. Crosby and Joseph N.T. Levick collaborated to produce the Crosby-Levick plate, a photographic reproduction of 15 varieties of 1793 cents that appeared in the American Journal of Numismatics in 1869. James Neiswinter commented at the 1996 ANS Coinage of the Americas Conference: "Levick's Plate of 1793 cents is arguably the most famous photographic plate in American numismatics. When you consider that photography was less than 20 years old the quality is amazing. Add to that the quality of the coins and you have a work that has not been matched since." The quality is such that all coins appearing on the plate are identifiable today.
After the planchet strip was prepared and passed through the draw bench to fine-tune its thickness, it had to be annealed or softened before individual planchets could be cut. The annealing process was simple: The strip was heated until it was red-hot, then it was allowed to slowly cool until it could be safely handled. The cutting press was used to punch out the planchets and may have also done double duty to actually strike the earliest coins. It was essentially a hand-operated screw press with a "cookie cutter" in place of the upper die. After they were cut, the planchets were again annealed, cleaned, and sent through the Castaing machine to receive the appropriate edge device. Only then were they ready to be struck into finished coins.
Provenance. George F. Seavey; William H. Strobridge (1873), lot 211; Lorin G. Parmelee; William H. Strobridge (6/1873), lot 129, $9.50; John W. Haseltine; Dr. Augustine Shurtleff (2/1901); Boston Museum of Fine Arts; 1976 ANA (Stack's, 8/1976), lot 224, $3,250; Ed Hipps; Bowers and Merena (11/1984), lot 2023; Fred Borcherdt; Anthony Terranova (4/1997).
Personality. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, founded in 1870 and opened in 1876, serves a wide variety of people through encounters with their many collections. From their mission statement: "The Museum aims for the highest standards of quality in all its endeavors. It serves as a resource for both those who are already familiar with art and those for whom art is a new experience. Through exhibitions, programs, research and publications, the Museum documents and interprets its own collections. It provides information and perspective on art through time and throughout the world. ... The Museum's ultimate aim is to encourage inquiry and to heighten public understanding and appreciation of the visual world." (Variety PCGS# 35462, Base PCGS# 1347)
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