1793 S-14, B-17 Liberty Cap Cent, AU50+
1793 1C Liberty Cap, AU50+ PCGS. CAC. S-14, B-17, Low R.5. Our
EAC Grade XF45. Ex: Halpern. Bisecting Crack / Triplet at OF.
The famous Bisecting Crack variety, and no other identification is
necessary. The reverse, found on S-13, S-14, S-16, and NC-6, has a
triple leaf at OF.
Famous Bisecting Crack
Tied for Second Finest Known
Varieties of 1793 Liberty Cap Cents
The mintage of 11,056 Liberty Cap cents in 1793 falsely suggests a small number of die varieties. Six different die pairs exist, an average of fewer than 2,000 coins for each pairing. Most of those are major rarities with only one variety even marginally plentiful. Four obverse and two reverse dies were created for those six marriages. The artworks created from those dies provides a lasting remembrance of a talented artist and engraver, Joseph Wright.
Wright is best remembered in numismatics for the device hub that he created for the obverse dies of the 1793 cent. Walter Breen writes:
"His duties included the assignment to make a device punch for the cent. Without it, our first engraver of the Mint would have been only a name in the history of early American art, honored among specialists but little known even to the museum-going public. Coin collectors have given him a permanent place of honor for his cent design, partly because the 1793 Liberty Caps are the first of their kind and partly because his design if of a quality unequaled in any subsequent cent coinage."
The most distinctive and easily recognized obverse die is the famous S-14 Bisecting Crack, the only Liberty Cap variety offered in the Loring Collection. The crack from top to bottom of the obverse occurred during die-hardening in preparation for coinage, so no surviving examples exist without it. The reverse die has a triple leaf below the O in OF, that die used for S-13, S-14, S-16, and NC-6. The S-14 is considered a low R.5 variety, with approximately 65 examples known in all grades.
The obverse of S-13 is one of just two obverse dies used for two varieties, and the reverse is the triple leaf type. The S-13 die marriage is the most plentiful of the six Liberty Cap varieties with an estimated surviving population of about 250 coins in all grades. The obverse was also used for the S-12 rarity, having a single leaf below the O in OF. Just over two dozen examples of S-12 are known today.
The other obverse appearing on two varieties has a heavy lowest curl appearing with the single leaf reverse on S-15 and the triple leaf reverse on S-16. Both varieties are great rarities. There are just 12 known examples of S-15 and approximately 20 examples known of S-16. The only other variety of the Liberty Cap cents is the NC-6, with only two known examples.
Emission Sequence of the Liberty Cap Cents
Just two reverse dies were used for all 1793 Liberty Cap cents, seemingly simplifying the emission sequence, but that is not the case. The challenge stems from the use of two different obverse dies with both reverse dies. All four obverse dies were used with the triple leaf reverse, and two of those four dies were also used with the single leaf reverse.
Breen placed S-16 ahead of S-15 in his variety presentation but also noted that the obverse die was in its earliest state for S-15, suggesting that Sheldon presented the correct usage, with S-15 first. The other common obverse is found perfect with S-13 and shows a die bulge on S-12, suggesting that S-12 came second.
The triple leaf reverse is found without or with a faint central bulge that in its earliest state on S-13 and latest state on S-16. The single leaf reverse is also bulged, less advanced on S-12 and further advanced on S-15.
To this cataloger, the evidence suggests that S-15 was first, followed by S-12, S-13, S-14, NC-6, and finally S-16. However, other students place S-15 last, as did Walter Breen, on the strength that S-15 cents are almost always on highly imperfect planchets, as are the first 1794 cents, S-17a.
Who Was Joseph Wright?
Credited with designing and engraving the Liberty Cap cents in August or September 1793, Joseph Wright was born at Bordentown, New Jersey, on July 16, 1756, and died at Philadelphia on September 13, 1793. The talented artist, sculptor, and engraver was the son of Patience Lovell Wright (1725-1786), a wax modeler who operated a waxworks in New York. She is credited with her son's early artistic training. Widowed in 1769, Mrs. Wright opened a studio and waxworks in London in 1772, and Joseph joined her there in 1775, entering the Royal Academy Schools as their first American-born student. Six years later he went to Paris, where he accomplished several portraits of Benjamin Franklin.
Meanwhile, during the Revolution, Wright's mother served as an American spy, sending reports of British plans to Franklin, concealed inside wax figures. She was born in New Jersey in 1725 and died in 1786. Her husband, Joseph Wright, was reportedly born in New York circa 1710 and died there in 1769. In addition to their son, Joseph and Patience Wright apparently had two daughters: Elizabeth Wright was born in 1755 and Phoebe (or Phebe) Wright was born in 1761. Some sources suggest a third daughter.
After returning to the United States circa 1785, Wright settled in New York. After an introduction, he prepared portraits of George and Martha Washington, upon the recommendation of Franklin. Soon afterward, he moved back to Philadelphia, where he married Sarah Vandervoordt on December 5, 1789. Late in 1792, Wright began working for the Philadelphia Mint, and he is credited with the pattern quarter dollars of 1792. He was considered the chief engraver of the Mint, although he never held that title. His work at the Mint and his life were cut short when he and his wife both succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic in September 1793.
The Loring 1793 S-14 Cent
Breen Die State III, with a faint bulge at NT, although no clash marks are evident. The famous Herman Halpern specimen, this impressive piece is smooth and glossy, almost unheard of for a 1793 Liberty Cap cent. It is a bold impression and nearly perfectly centered, with lovely chestnut and steel-brown surfaces. A few trivial handling marks are mentioned only because we have to be accurate in our descriptions. Some marks on each side remain from the original planchet stock before striking. In their 1988 catalog, Stack's wrote:
"Extremely Fine-45, graded About Uncirculated-50 by both [Willard] Blaisdell and Sheldon. Originally from England, it appeared in our December 8, 1983 John L. Roper Sale, where it was described as 'An extraordinary coin with a full beaded border on both sides, and with virtually flawless surfaces save for a pin-point nick above the head and a minuscule obverse rim nick. Light brown with slight iridescence and considerable natural prooflike surfaces. The third finest known.' "
The Halpern-Loring specimen is tied for the second finest of the Bisecting Crack cents in the Bland census. However, more important, it is tied for the seventh finest of all 1793 Liberty Cap cents, according to a compilation of the Bland census for all six varieties.
Ex: Found in England; John J. Ford, Jr.; C. Douglas Smith; Garry Fitzgerald; Lester Merkin; John Adams (6/1972); Dorothy Paschal; Robinson S. Brown, Jr. (5/1976); Denis W. Loring; 1977 ANA (Kagin's, 8/1977), lot 224; Stack's; John L. Roper, II (Stack's, 12/1983), lot 446; R.E. Naftzger, Jr. (12/11/1986); Herman Halpern (Stack's, 3/1988), lot 16; Dennis Irving Long (Bowers and Merena, 1/1990), lot 17; Denis W. Loring.
From The Denis W. Loring Collection of 1793 Large Cents.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 223L, PCGS# 1359)
Weight: 13.48 grams
Metal: 100% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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