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Lustrous 1793 S-3 Chain Cent, A Golden Beauty

1793 Chain 1C AMERICA MS62 Brown PCGS. S-3, B-4, Low R.3. Bland AU55; tied for CC-3. Noyes AU50; CC-5. Photo #32066. Our EAC Grade AU50.

Crosby-Levick 2B; Frossard 3; Proskey 3; Doughty 3; Crosby 3-C; McGirk 1-E; EAC 4; Encyclopedia 1635; PCGS #1341.

Close date with R large and leaning right. Full legend, AMERICA. The obverse appears on S-3. The reverse appears on S-2, S-3, S-4, and NC-1. The obverse has a smoothly curved bust line and a close date with the digits 1 and 9 higher than the 7 and 3.

A lustrous steel and golden-brown Chain cent with frosty surfaces faded from original mint color. Both sides are splendid and problem-free with the exception of a couple of insignificant rim bruises on the obverse. Noyes assigns a sharpness grade of AU55 and deducts five points for the rim bruises.

Die State III.
The obverse has heavy clash marks around the profile, while the reverse is rough near UNITED STATES. In 1897 Crosby correctly identified the clash marks: "The form or outline of the chain upon the reverse is often found incused on this obverse in front of the mouth and throat, and under the neck, probably caused by a partial impression of the reverse die being received by the obverse from an accidental contact without an intervening planchet." The reverse is rotated to 12:30.

Appearances. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006) and in the 1914 ANS Exhibition Catalogue. In 1914 the American Numismatic Society mounted an exhibit of the most impressive numismatic specimens known at the time. The exhibit brought together examples from the society's own collection, as well as those from many of the most famous collectors of the day. An extensive plated catalog of the collection was published, and remains a valuable source of provenance information to this day.

Census. In addition to two Mint State pieces, three coins are graded AU55 by Del Bland, followed by a small group graded XF45. One of the AU55 coins is in the ANS collection, leaving only four AU or finer examples of the Sheldon-3 variety available to collectors.

Commentary. Sheldon-3 is easily the most common Chain cent, with enough pieces available that every interested collector can acquire an example. This variety represents fully half of all known Chain cents that exist today, so it probably also represents half of those pieces originally struck in 1793, or about 18,000 coins. It is unknown who first identified the Sheldon-3 die marriage. Since it was illustrated on the Crosby-Levick plate along with all other Sheldon-numbered Chain cents, it was recognized as a variety before 1869.

On January 28, 1791 Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton submitted an extensive report that examined the issues relative to the establishment of a Mint: "A plan for an establishment of this nature, involves a great variety of considerations-intricate, nice, and important. The general state of debtor and creditor; all the relations and consequences of price; the essential interests of trade and industry; the value of all property; the whole income, both of the State and of individuals, are liable to be sensibly influenced, beneficially or otherwise, by the judicious or injudicious regulation of this interesting object."

Hamilton examined all aspects of such an establishment in an extremely detailed report, which was the basis for the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. In his report, Hamilton considered numerous particulars:

"1st. What ought to be the nature of the money unit of the United States?
"2nd. What the proportion between gold and silver, if coins of both metals are to be established?
"3rd. What the proportion and composition of alloy in each kind?
"4th. Whether the expense of coinage shall be defrayed by the Government, or out of the material itself?
"5th. What shall be the number, denominations, sizes, and devices of the coins?
"6th. Whether foreign coins shall be permitted to be current or not; if the former, at what rate, and for what period?"

Provenance. Malcolm N. Jackson (United States Coin Co., 5/1913), lot 1226, $140; Carl Wurtzbach (1919); Virgil M. Brand (2/1941); B.G. Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.); Dr. J. Hewitt Judd; Abe Kosoff (Illustrated History, 1962 fixed price list), lot 16; Kreisberg and Schulman (5/1966), lot 753, $6,750; Jake Browning; Harmer, Rooke (11/1969), lot 807A, $9,000; 1970 ANA (RARCOA), lot 1602A, $8,500; Stack's (10/1990), lot 1590, $33,000; Anthony Terranova, Kenneth M. Goldman, and Martin Paul; Denis W. Loring (7/1994); John B. MacDonald; Denis W. Loring.

Personality. A resident of Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. J. Hewitt Judd was born on May 12, 1899, and died on December 23, 1986. Judd was a professor at the University of Nebraska from 1930 to 1964, and accepted the position of chairman of the Ophthalmology Department in 1942. He is best known for his interest in patterns, and wrote the standard reference to the series, United States Pattern, Experimental, and Trial Pieces. Judd was active in ANA operations, serving on the board of governors from 1945 to 1951, as vice president from 1951 to 1953, and as president from 1953 to 1955. He also served on the 1965 Assay Commission. (NGC ID# 223F, Variety PCGS# 35438, Base PCGS# 1341)

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Auction Dates
February, 2008
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
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Rasmussen Special Edition Catalog
This hard bound volume contains the magnificent Wes Rasmussen Large Cent Collection, formed by a former President of the Early American Coppers society which was auctioned at the 2005 Florida United Numismatic Auction. Reserve your copy of this remarkable volume for just $75 today.
Rasmussen Signed Limited Edition Catalog
A hard bound limited library edition of the Wes Rasmussen Collection Catalog, signed by Wes Rasmussen, Mark Borckardt, Greg Rohan, and Denis Loring, is available while supplies last. Only 100 produced. Reserve your copy of this remarkable limited edition signed volume for just $150 today.

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