Rare 1793 S-16 Liberty Cap Cent

    1793 1C Liberty Cap. Very Good 10 PCGS. S-16, B-19, R.6. Bland Very Good 7; tied for CC-6. Noyes Very Good 8; tied for CC-4. Photo #26755. Our EAC Grade Very Good 8.

    Crosby-Levick 12J; Frossard 13.1; Proskey 17; Doughty 17; Crosby 14-L; McGirk 3-E; EAC 19; Encyclopedia 1647; PCGS #1359.

    Single bead dots the I; lowest curl is heavy. Leaf triplet is positioned below OF. The obverse appears on S-15 and S-16. The reverse appears on S-13, S-14, S-16, and NC-6. Lettered Edge, one leaf.

    Intermingled tan and dark brown color is evident on the obverse, with mostly olive-brown on the reverse. While each side has minor porosity and surface encrustation, it is not severe. A thin planchet lamination is visible in the right obverse field, with another through the right side of the wreath. The upper reverse has a rim flaw that appears to be as struck. The sharpness of this piece is considerably finer than the net grade assigned by either Bland or Noyes.

    Die State II.
    The obverse is lightly cracked through the right side of Y, with faint die buckling at the lower curl. A fine die crack along the buckling is barely visible.

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

    This is the third-rarest 1793 Liberty Cap variety, and the second-rarest of those varieties known to Sheldon. In 1949, only seven examples were known to Sheldon, with two others rumored. By 1958 there were 11 examples known, and today the population totals 19 coins. In his Large Cent Encyclopedia, Walter Breen attributed the discovery of this variety to Mortimer L. Mackenzie in 1869, although the discovery coin is untraced today. Only two of the 19 known pieces have a provenance dating back to the 19th century.

    Although it is not the rarest 1793 Liberty Cap variety today (S-15 and NC-6 are both rarer), the S-16 die combination was considered unique in 1869 when it was depicted on the famous Crosby-Levick plate. Mortimer Mackenzie owned the coin at that time. Only one or two were known to Crosby in 1897 when his book on the 1793 cents and half cents was published in 1897.

    The finest known example of this variety grades just VF25, with a Fine 15 coin in the ANS and a Fine 12 in private hands. Bill Noyes places this specimen in fourth position, the third best available to collectors.

    After planchets and dies were prepared, the final step in the coining process was actual striking of the planchets, converting them from mere pieces of metal to coins. For the entire history of the first Mint, and into the first few years of the second Mint, until 1836, all coins were manually produced by use of a screw press. There are no existing drawings of the screw presses used at the first Mint, although drawings of similar machines exist. It is believed that presses in the first Mint were rather heavy and compact machines of about waist height, according to Sholley. A heavy vertical screw was operated by a swing arm, with the upper die attached directly to the end of the screw and the lower die in a stationary mount.

    Thomas Elder (7/1913), lot 573, $60; Charles M. Williams (Numismatic Gallery, 11/1950), lot 14A, $177.50; Christian M. Petersen; Dr. Charles L. Ruby, Part III (Superior, 2/1975), lot 16, $1,200; Denis W. Loring; Jules Reiver (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 19172, $32,200.

    Dr. Charles Leroy Ruby was born on December 28, 1900, in Carthage, Indiana. He was educated in Indiana and California, receiving his Ph.D. in 1933. Ruby was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1926, and spent most of his career as a law professor at Fullerton College from 1929 to 1966. He served as a member of the ANA Board of Governors from 1951 to 1953, was elected president of the Numismatic Association of Southern California in 1962, was elected president of the California Teachers Association in 1962, and served on the Assay Commission in 1968. In addition to coins, Ruby collected stamps, Indian artifacts, glassware, and art. Superior Stamp and Coin Galleries purchased his coin collection, selling portions in a series of three sales held in 1974 and 1975. Ruby spent his last years in a Fullerton California, nursing home, and died on August 23, 1997. (NGC ID# 223L, Variety PCGS# 35498, Base PCGS# 1359)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 100% Copper

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