1795 S-79, B-9 Reeded Edge Cent, VG10
1795 1C Reeded Edge VG10 PCGS. S-79, B-9, Low R.7. Also Judd-20,
Pollock-29. Our EAC Grade VG8. Ex: Dan Holmes Collection. 153.4
grains. Smooth and glossy chestnut-brown surfaces are covered with
myriad handling and circulation marks, although none of those marks
are distracting. A tiny rim nick under the 7 and a few other
minuscule marks will identify this piece in the future, not that it
needs any further identification. The S-79, and this specimen in
particular, are recognized as the holy grail of early cent
collecting. These coins also interest pattern collectors for their
The Finest of Nine Known Examples
Experimental Edge Device
In 1949 when Dr. William H. Sheldon published Early American Cents, he recorded 32 non-collectible (NC) varieties, and another 28 numbered varieties that were rated R.7 or R.8. Today, there are 53 NC varieties that range from R.5 to R.8. Today, the 1795 S-79 Reeded Edge cent is the only Sheldon numbered variety in the early large cent series that retains the coveted R.7 rating.
This example is the plate coin for Wayte Raymond's Standard Catalog, 18th edition, the Judd Book, Breen's Complete Encyclopedia, and Noyes, and it is the Sheldon plate coin for the obverse.
Commentary. Pattern authorities Dr. J. Hewitt Judd and Andrew W. Pollock, III, refer to the 1795 Reeded Edge cent as an experimental piece. The nine known 1795 Reeded Edge cents were struck to the reduced weight standard for one cent coins that took effect on December 27, 1795.
In United States Pattern, Experimental and Trial Pieces, Dr. Judd writes:
"A very interesting experimental piece appeared in this year . President Washington, acting under authority from Congress, ordered a reduction in the weight of the cent after Dec. 27, 1795. The Mint authorities apparently attempted to reduce the weight by using thinner planchets, but found that the lettered edge could not be used on the thin planchets. They then tried striking some cents with a reeded edge but abandoned the idea after striking only a few pieces."
Andrew W. Pollock, III wrote in United States Patterns and Related Issues:
"A tiny number of 1795 cents weighing 168 grains are known having reeded edges. The reeding is similar to that found on silver and gold coins. It is thought these were produced experimentally in order that they might be compared with plain edge pieces. Evidently, the workmen at the Mint found that it was too difficult or uneconomical to apply the edge lettering [sic] to the thin 168-grain cent planchets."
Condition Census. The Reeded Edge cent made its first auction appearance in 1862, although that offering is untraced to any specific piece in the following roster.
VG8. Dr. S.T. Millard; B. Max Mehl (3/1915), lot 75; G. Kraft; Robert D. Book (5/1930); George H. Clapp, traded for a "famous 1794 Cent"; Howard R. Newcomb (J.C. Morgenthau & Co., 2/1945), lot 76; James Kelly (Fixed Price #21, #22, and #23, 1945-1947); Celina Coin Co. (3/1947), lot 2037; James Kelly (11/1947), lot 927; James Kelly (4/1948), lot 1327; Christian M. Petersen; Hollinbeck Coin Co. (10/1953), lot 278; Dr. William H. Sheldon (4/1972); R.E. Naftzger, Jr. (2/1992); Eric Streiner; Anthony Terranova (12/1993); Daniel W. Holmes, Jr. (Goldberg Coins, 9/2009), lot 128. The present specimen.
VG7. W. Elliot Woodward (4/1890), lot 866; Charles Steigerwalt; Hon. George W. Lewis; Henry Chapman (6/1916), lot 633; Dr. Charles E. McGirk; Walter F. Webb (2/1937); George H. Clapp; American Numismatic Society.
Good 6. Homer K. Downing, discovered in 1947 in a New York City coin dealer's junk box; 1952 ANA Sale (New Netherlands, 8/1952), lot 1712; K.P. Austin; Alan J. Brotman (Numismatic Gallery, 1973); First Coinvestors; Pine Tree (2/1975), lot 663; First Coinvestors (4/1976); Denis W. Loring (6/1976); Robinson S. Brown, Jr. (Superior, 9/1986), lot 105; Jack H. Robinson (Superior, 1/1989), lot 147; G. Lee Kuntz (Superior Galleries, 10/1991), lot 90; John R. Frankenfield (5/1995); Daniel W. Holmes (9/1995); Robinson S. Brown, Jr. (Superior 1/1996), lot 112; W.M. "Jack" Wadlington (8/2005); Ralph W. Rucker.
Good 5. Henry Chapman, discovered in a large lot of old coins; Henry Chapman (6/1916), lot 634; Henry Chapman (3/1917), lot 549; Howard R. Newcomb (2/1939); Henry C. Hines (1945); Dr. William H. Sheldon; Dorothy Paschal (1/1974); Denis W. Loring (5/1974); Dr. Robert J. Shalowitz; George Korsing; American Auction Association (1/1975), lot 908; George Korsing; Hap Seiders; Ronald Cooper; NASCA (11/1977), lot 96; Heritage (1/2011), lot 5422.
Good 6/4. First seen at Baltimore in March 2010 and again in Baltimore on June 17, 2010, the property of John Baker, who discovered the coin in a group of coins given to him by his father many years earlier; Goldberg Coins (9/2010), lot 796.
Good 4 PCGS. Brower's Stamp and Coin in Florence, Oregon (circa 2003/2004), purchased over the counter as part of a large group of coins; unknown collector; Brower's Stamp and Coin, repurchased from the heirs of the preceding; a second unknown collector; Bowers and Merena (11/2008), lot 1143.
Fair 2. Christy's Auction House (Indianapolis, Indiana, circa 1999); Charles Knapp (1/2010); M. Scott Barrett (5/1/2010); Steven K. Ellsworth (5/26/2010); L. Michael Lawrence, M.D.
Fair 2. From the obverse and reverse dies of the S-79, but without visible edge reeding. Heritage (1/2012), lot 3034.
No assigned grade. Holed brockage. Homer K. Downing, discovered in 1944 in a Chicago coin dealer's junk box; Dr. William H. Sheldon (1945); 1952 ANA Sale (New Netherlands, 1952), lot 1712a; Dr. Charles L. Ruby (12/1972); Superior Stamp & Coin Co.; Superior (2/1974), lot 414; Alan J. Brotman (Numismatic Gallery); Kagin's (11/1974), lot 51; Alan J. Brotman (Numismatic Gallery, 11/1974); Denis W. Loring (1/1975); Alan J. Brotman (Numismatic Gallery).
Since its first appearance in 1890, there have only been 26 previous auction offerings of any of the nine known 1795 Reeded Edge Cents. That is an average of nearly five years between offerings. Like many rarities, those offerings take place in stages. The first was four offerings between 1890 and 1917, followed by an intermission of 28 years before the next auction appearance. The second stage was seven offerings from 1945 to 1953, followed by an intermission of 21 years. Five auction appearances spanned the years from 1974 to 1977, followed by a nine year intermission. There were five more offerings from 1986 to 1999, followed by another nine year gap. After a third nine year break, the present opportunity is the sixth offering since 2008. While we certainly can't predict the future, it seems that another intermission between offerings is about to take place.
From The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection. (Variety PCGS# 35738, Base PCGS# 1383)
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