Census Level 1794 S-17a Cent1794 1C Head of '93. XF45 PCGS. S-17a, B-1a, Low R.5. Bland VF30; tied for CC-3. Noyes VF30; tied for CC-3. Photo #20003. Our EAC Grade VF30.
Equivalents. Maris 4 (Tilted 4); Frossard 3; Doughty 22; Hays 4; McGirk 7-B; Ross 3-B; Chapman 4; EAC 1a; Encyclopedia 1648; PCGS #1362.
Variety. Head of '93; date is wide and straight. Blundered N in CENT, first cut inverted. The obverse appears on S-17a and NC-4. The reverse appears on S-17a, S-18a, S-18b, and NC-4. Lettered Edge, leaf points down.
Each of the Head of 1793 varieties (S-17 through S-20) is known with "a" and "b" subvarieties representing different edge types. The 1793 edge, designated in each case as the "a" subvariety, has the tip and stem of the leaf pointing down in relation to the letters. The 1794 edge, designated as the "b" subvariety, has the tip and stem of the leaf pointing up.
Two examples of S-17 are known with the 1794 edge device, designated as NC-4. One of those has a pedigree dating back to the 1930s, but the 1794 edge device was not properly identified until 1950, when C. Douglas Smith owned the coin.
Surfaces. The sharpness is possibly five points finer. Smooth medium tan and olive surfaces, with streaks of darker steel on both sides. A small area at the center of the obverse has a slightly higher gloss than the surrounding surface. A minor rim bruise is visible beneath the digit 4 on the obverse and over ES on the reverse. Otherwise, only the usual minute grade-associated handling marks are visible on each side.
Die State II. Reported as State II in Breen's Large Cent Encyclopedia, this piece appears to be intermediate between States II and III. The obverse is cracked from the rim to pole, and weakly from the top of Liberty's head to the left base of L and a denticle left of that letter. Both sides have prominent clash marks.
Appearances. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006). Del Bland states that the obverse of this piece is illustrated in Morley. Granted, the VF30 coin plated in Morley has a similar rim bump over B in LIBERTY, but that coin actually appears to be the Ruby-Halpern-Neiswinter specimen.
Census. Finest known for the variety is an AU50 in the ANS Collection, followed by a single XF40. Three VF30 coins, including this example, are next in the Census. These five census level coins are followed by several pieces that grade below Very Fine. Only two of the top six examples in the Census were known when Early American Cents was published. The Newcomb-Adams specimen, graded Fine 12 by Bland, is the discovery coin for the variety with a pedigree back to Dr. Maris.
Commentary. In 1949 Sheldon was aware of the ANS coin, but noted that there were no other coins called better than Fine. This VF30 example was located in England a year later, and was called "far the finest in collectors' hands" by Sheldon in Penny Whimsy. Just three other similar quality pieces have been discovered in the last six decades.
Walter Breen wrote in his Large Cent Encyclopedia that the first 1794 cents have the same general appearance as the 1793 Liberty Cap cents, on streaky planchets that often show laminations and other defects. He explained that copper supplied by Ferdinand Gourdon on August 1, 1793, was used for all of those coins.
Robert Scot prepared dies for the 1794 Head of '93 cents from the original Liberty Cap device punch, created by Joseph Wright a few months earlier. The punch became unserviceable after just three obverse dies were prepared. On each of the three dies, the date and LIBERTY were entered by hand.
Provenance. Discovered in England (1950); Henry Grunthal (1951); Dr. William H. Sheldon (1970); Dorothy Paschal (3/1977); R.E. Naftzger, Jr. (2/1992); Eric Streiner (3/1992); Denis W. Loring (8/1993); Dr. Robert A. Schuman (5/1994); Dr. Allen Bennett (2001).
Personality. A brief introduction to Henry Grunthal appeared in the July 1969 The Numismatist: "He has been a member of the ANA since 1929. He studied archaeology at the University of Berlin, and continued this study and that of the history of art at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Jena. While at Jena he held the position of assistant curator at the Coin Cabinet of the Duke of Saxony Coburg-Gotha in Gotha. He later entered his father's numismatic establishment in Berlin where he remained until 1938, when he emigrated to the United States.
"After devoting most of his time in the United States as a professional numismatist, he was appointed in 1953 to the position of assistant to the chief curator at the American Numismatic Society where he now holds the position of curator of European and modern coins. He is the author of many numismatic articles and co-author of the American Numismatic Society's monograph on Carolingian coinage." (NGC ID# 223N, Variety PCGS# 35504, Base PCGS# 1362)
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