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Census Level 1794 S-19a Cent

1794 1C Head of '93. VF30 PCGS. S-19a, B-3a, High R.5. Bland VF20; tied for CC-3. Noyes Fine 12; CC-5. Photo #20253. Our EAC Grade Fine 15.

Maris 2 (Double Chin); Frossard 2.1; Doughty 19; Hays 2; McGirk 8-B; Ross 2-A; Chapman 2; EAC 3a; Encyclopedia 1652; PCGS #1362.

Head of '93; the chin is doubled. Dentils, stems, and ribbons are unusually long. The obverse appears on S-18a, S-18b, S-19a, and S-19b. The reverse appears on S-19a, S-19b, S-20, S-21, and NC-7. Lettered Edge, leaf points down. The edge is blundered: ONE HUNDREDED FOR A DOLLAR as pointed out by McCawley and Grellman in the Ruttenberg catalog.

The surfaces are glossy and dark brown, as expected from the crude, darker planchets used on this variety. Lightly abraded with traces of corrosion on the lower reverse; dark maroon patina can be seen on each side. The obverse has a minuscule rim bruise at 2 o'clock. Portions of the reverse are covered with an unidentified, possibly removable substance. As so often on the early cents, the description of imperfections makes the coin sound worse than it actually is.

Die State I. The obverse has a light bulge from the lower edge of the cap to the middle hair curls.

Appearances. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006).

Census. Although this example has the second best sharpness of any known example, it ranks lower in the Census due to minor grade deductions. Del Bland records it as third finest in his Census, while Bill Noyes ranks the coin as fifth finest. The finest example is a VF30 coin in the Daniel Holmes Collection, graded AU50 by Sheldon and identified by him in 1949 as the only high grade, light-colored example he had seen. It is also identified by Bland as the discovery coin for the variety, with a pedigree dating back to Harlan P. Smith, circa 1900.

Sheldon described the present coin from the Dupont Collection as second finest known in Penny Whimsy. Two others, including one in the ANS, grade VF20. Just over 30 examples are known today, at least half discovered in the past 25 years. Most of the recently discovered examples are in lower grades. Five of the top six have been known for more than 50 years.

Commentary. Breen suggested that all of the Head of '93 cents were coined January 10 - 13, 1794, with a delivery of 11,000 pieces on the latter date. Some of these were probably struck from the new copper that arrived in November 1793 from Taylor and Bailey of London.

Maris identified S-19 as the "ugly tooth" reverse, since the denticles are long and heavy with sharp points. Perhaps not the most endearing of descriptions, but the desirability of this variety is derived from its rarity and not superior die engraving.

Provenance. Carl Wurtzbach; Charles J. Dupont (Stack's, 9/1954), lot 27, $250; Dorothy Paschal (5/1975); Denis W. Loring (5/1983); Del Bland; Jack H. Robinson; Douglas F. Bird; Gary Ruttenberg (McCawley & Grellman Auctions, 8/1996), lot 72, $12,100; Wes Rasmussen (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 3024, $12,650.

Personality. After the death of Joseph Wright, Robert Scot (sometimes spelled Scott) was appointed as Mint engraver on November 23, 1793. Scot was born in Scotland on October 2, 1745, and moved to Philadelphia in 1782. He was appointed as engraver for Virginia circa 1780. Scot was noted to be undersize, and an honorable and agreeable man. George Evans wrote that "at the time of his appointment he seems to have been turning the down-hill of life" even though he was just 48 years old. Scot continued in the position until his death in November 1823. In the later years of his tenure, most of the engraving work was performed by John Reich until Reich resigned in 1817. (NGC ID# 223N, Variety PCGS# 35516, Base PCGS# 1362)

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Auction Dates
February, 2008
14th-16th Thursday-Saturday
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