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Famous 'Sprung Die' 1793 S-6 Wreath Cent

1793 1C Wreath, Vine and Bars Edge. XF45 PCGS. S-6, B-7, R.3. Noyes VF30; CC-15. Photo #39173. Our EAC Grade VF30.

Crosby-Levick 5C; Frossard 5; Proskey 8; Doughty 8; Crosby 7-F; McGirk 2-D; EAC 7; Encyclopedia 1638; PCGS #1347.

The Sprung Die; TY is over the forelock. The bow is small and heavy. The obverse appears on S-6. The reverse appears on S-5, S-6, S-7, and NC-5. The only appearance of the obverse die, obviously failing as a result of the bulge and later crack that cross the entire die from left to right. Vine and Bars Edge.

Cleaned and recolored with steel surfaces and hints of pale blue on both sides and lighter reddish-tan on the devices. A few insignificant rim bumps are present at the upper right obverse. Microscopic porosity slightly dulls the surfaces, especially on the reverse.

Die State III.
An intermediate die state between Breen's State III and State IV that shows the pronounced ridge in the left obverse field extending to Liberty's jaw, and a fine die crack from Liberty's lower lip toward the right obverse border.

Census. This piece is unlisted in Bland's Census. More than a dozen examples are known that grade XF40 or finer, including four Mint State pieces.

Commentary. The Sprung Die is a plentiful variety among the Wreath cents, the third commonest behind Sheldon-8 and 9. Between 200 and 500 coins defines the original Rarity-3 rating developed by Sheldon. More recently, attempts have been made to further pinpoint the actual rarity of early coinage varieties, dividing each individual rarity level into three parts, High, Normal, and Low. These are generally equal divisions. High Rarity-3 indicates a population of 201 to 300 coins, Normal (usually designated only by the original rarity indicator as seen above) indicates 301 to 400 coins, and Low Rarity-3 indicates 401 to 500 survivors.

This variety is called the Sprung Die, a name Sylvester S. Crosby gave it in 1897. The nomenclature refers to the prominent die bulge in the left obverse field, present to some degree on all known examples. Crosby wrote: "the coins from this die are usually slightly convex, as it probably 'caved' or yielded across the center, - a line or slight crack showing on some specimens, from the border to the mouth, and the die giving way more across and behind the head. It is known as the warped or sprung die."

Like most 1793 cent varieties, the Sprung Die is illustrated on the Crosby-Levick plate, indicating that the variety was known before the 1869 publication of that plate in American Journal of Numismatics.

Purchases of copper for the new Mint actually began in 1792 and continued through 1793. Breen's Large Cent Encyclopedia presents a record of the actual copper purchases, although his accounting of its use is hardly accurate. From September through November 1792, a total of 6,345 pounds of copper was purchased, with an additional 980.625 pounds in March 1793, 59.5 pounds in April, 11,294 pounds in May, 391.5 pounds in June, and 2,434 pounds in August.

The Mint had three uses for copper: half cents, large cents, and alloy for silver and gold once such coins were in production. As there was no need for copper to alloy the precious metals in 1793, the first copper purchases were available for half cent and large cent production. At the 208-grain standard, large cents were produced at the rate of 33.67 pieces per pound, half cents at double that rate. Therefore, the entire coinage of copper in 1793 only required a little over 3,800 pounds of copper, assuming no waste.

Provenance. Auction '88 (Superior, 7/1988), lot 16; Dr. J. Bruce Jackson; Bowers and Merena (8/1995), lot 11, $4,180.

Personality. The Apostrophe Auctions (Auction '79, Auction '80, etc.) were conducted from 1979 to 1990 by Paramount, RARCOA, Stack's, and Superior (later sales had David Akers replacing Paramount). Each firm was limited to 500 lots, and had a different position in the sale from year to year. Each annual sale was held just prior to the ANA Convention, generally the weekend immediately before the convention opened, and always in the same locale. (NGC ID# 223H, Variety PCGS# 35450, Base PCGS# 1347)

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February, 2008
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Rasmussen Signed Limited Edition Catalog
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