1794 S-48 Cent, Fine 12
1794 1C Starred Reverse Fine 12 PCGS. S-48, B-38, Low R.5.
19th century dealer and numismatist Henry Chapman discovered the
Starred Reverse in 1876 or 1877. His brother, Samuel Hudson Chapman
and Dr. Edward Maris witnessed the discovery and Maris confirmed
the new variety. Henry Chapman wrote about the discovery in his
June 1908 catalog of the Taylor and Windle Collections:
Famous Starred Reverse
"1794 Hays No. 9, Chapman variety for I discovered it in 1876 and brought it to public notice; the peculiarity is in its having stars around the border of the reverse. Good, one of the best of about ten known and they are generally very poor."
Samuel Hudson Chapman told more of the story in his variety reference on the 1794 cents that was published in 1926:
"This die was discovered by Henry Chapman during 1877. Dr. Maris, the first man to make a study of the series, was standing between him and the author whilst we were examining a lot of 1794 Cents, when H.C., picking up the specimen and examining it, exclaimed, 'Here is a die with minute stars around the reverse.' Dr. Maris confirmed the discovery and said, 'It was previously unknown.' "
S.H. Chapman called the Starred Reverse a R.6 variety in a scale from 1 to 8, with R.8 being unique. Although he didn't further define his rarity scale, it seems that perhaps 10 to 20 examples were known to him. Two decades later, Dr. William Sheldon retained the R.6 rarity rating in Early American Cents, published in 1949, with the interesting comments:
"At one time I owned nine of them, and I have seen nearly thirty, so it is likely that if a complete census were taken in the outlying numismatic bogs and hamlets, more than thirty, at any rate, could be turned up. ... To list the Hays 8 as an R-5 would be too much of a shock to the old-time collectors."
He continued the R.6 myth in Penny Whimsy, published nine years later, noting the collectors "mention it with religious awe." Many more have been located in the last half century, and today the famous Starred Reverse is approaching a High R.4 rarity rating. There are probably about 70 examples known, including the present piece, apparently one of the new discoveries, and an exceptional example.
Both sides have deep steel-brown fields with lighter chocolate-brown devices. Minor surface roughness is consistent with the grade. A tiny obverse rim bruise at 9 o'clock will help track the pedigree, although we are unable to find any others with that feature. Most important about this piece is the nearly complete reverse border with at least 70 of the 94 stars visible. The existing sharpness is equivalent to the PCGS grade, and deductions are minor. The cataloger's net grade places this splendid specimen among the dozen finest examples. MRB VG8.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 223P, PCGS# 1374)
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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.
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