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1794 1C Head of '93. VF20 PCGS. S-18a, B-2a, R.6. ...

2008 February Long Beach, CA Signature Coin Auction #460

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Auction Ended On: Feb 15, 2008
Item Activity: 10 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Long Beach Convention Center
100 S. Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

Lot Viewing:
Room 103B,C (Tuesday Only)
Booth 400 (Wednesday - Saturday)

Auction Room:
Room 103 B,C

Desirable 1794 S-18a Cent
1794 1C Head of '93. VF20 PCGS. S-18a, B-2a, R.6. Bland Fine 12; tied for CC-3. Noyes Fine 12; CC-3. Photo #32992. Our EAC Grade Fine 12.

Equivalents. Maris 52; Frossard 2.2; Doughty 20, 65; Hays 3; McGirk 7-A; Ross 2-B; Chapman 3; EAC 2a; Encyclopedia 1650; PCGS #1362.

Variety. Head of '93; the chin is doubled. Blundered N in CENT, first cut inverted. The obverse appears on S-18a, S-18b, S-19a, and S-19b. The reverse appears on S-17a, S-18a, S-18b, and NC-4. Lettered Edge, leaf points down.

Surfaces. Numerous insignificant abrasions appear on each side of slightly rough, mottled olive and dark brown surfaces. The sharpness is slightly finer than the net grade. In 1973 the New Netherlands cataloger described this piece as: "Brown color with streaks of olive. There are a few pit marks and rim bruises on each side and some very small areas of granularity which really aren't disturbing to the naked eye."

Die State II. The reverse die is lapped with several fragmented leaves at the lower right. A very short obverse die crack between the dentils extends slightly past the dentil tips at 8 o'clock. Later die states are recorded in Breen's Large Cent Encyclopedia for S-18b, and may not exist on S-18a.

Appearances. The reverse is illustrated in Morley on page 41. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006). The late Tom Morley compiled 1794 Large Cents Graded and Updated in 1979. Morley depicted each of the known types in various grades, attempting a pictorial grading guide for 1794 cents. In Provenance Gallery of the Year 1794, Al Boka wrote: "The grading of 1794s is much too complex to be described through black and white photographs. Large cent grading is a highly developed artform acquired through much practice and experience."

Census. Third finest of a very rare subvariety and a great prize for the 1794 specialist. The finest known S-18a is the ANS VF30, with a rather severe planchet defect. The VF20 discovery coin for the subvariety, now in the Daniel Holmes Collection, is second finest, followed by this coin and one other that are tied for third best. Of the 19 known examples of this variety, only eight grade Good or better. S-18a crossed over to the R.6 level in the early 1980s.

Commentary. Sheldon called this rare Head of '93 variety the "Double Chin," a nearly exact replica of 1793 Obverse 12, now with a pronounced double chin. Nineteen examples of this subvariety are known, a substantial increase over the six or seven coins known to Sheldon in 1958.

Older collectors labeled the 1793 Liberty Cap cents and the 1794 Head of '93 cents the French Heads. This label was not a description of the design. Rather, it was a response to the incorrect belief that the dies were engraved in France and imported by the Mint. In Early American Cents, Sheldon quotes from a lecture given by Foster Lardner many years before the 1949 publication of that reference, noting that the 1793 Liberty Cap cents and the first four varieties of 1794 "were struck from dies made abroad, presumably by Drost, and perhaps as retribution for the wretched quality of the first dies he sent us." As recently as 1979 the European myth remained with some collectors. Tom Morley wrote that the S-17 and S-18 cents were struck from dies "probably coming from abroad."

Provenance. Henry C. Colvin (French's, Sale #80, 10/1962), lot 21, $400; R.E. Naftzger, Jr. (New Netherlands, 11/1973), lot 339, $1,200; Del Bland (3/1976); Dr. Robert A. Schuman; Myles Z. Gerson; Del Bland (3/1984); Darwin Palmer; George E. Ewing, Jr. (11/1993); Wes Rasmussen (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 3022, $16,100.

Personality. The large cent collection of Henry C. Colvin was the most significant group of early copper handled by Charles French of Troy, New York. The sale was held in conjunction with the October 1962 Middle Atlantic Numismatic Association (MANA) Convention, French's 80th sale. Among lots in the collection were 42 different 1794 cents. (Variety PCGS# 35510, Base PCGS# 1362)

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