Remarkable 1793 S-11c Lettered Edge Cent1793 1C Wreath, Lettered Edge. AU58 PCGS. S-11c, B-16c, R.3. Bland XF45; tied for CC-6. Noyes XF45; tied for CC-6. Photo #31019. Our EAC Grade XF45.
Equivalents. Crosby-Levick 9H; Frossard 9; Proskey 12; Doughty 12; Crosby 11-J; McGirk 2-K2; EAC 16c; Encyclopedia 1646; PCGS #1350.
Variety. Left leaf is vertical, others lean right. Fraction is right of center below the bow. The obverse appears on S-11a, S-11b, and S-11c. The reverse appears on S-11a, S-11b, and S-11c. The Single Leaf Edge variant from the S-11 die combination.
Surfaces. A splendid piece with Average surfaces according to Bill Noyes, but perhaps deserving an Above Average designation. Both sides retain considerable luster with pleasing light brown color and iridescent blue toning. A small dark stain is evident at the lower right obverse. A thin diagonal line of lamination can be seen through the center reverse.
Die State III. A remarkable example with heavy clash marks at Liberty's neck and in the right field. Virtually all of AMERICA can actually be read in the obverse field.
Appearances. The obverse is illustrated in Early American Cents and Penny Whimsy. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Noyes (2006).
Census. In addition to a single Mint State specimen, about a dozen pieces grade XF or AU, per Noyes. This piece ranks at the low end of the traditional Condition Census, consisting of the six finest examples of each variety.
Commentary. Although S-11a, 11b, and 11c are considered separate subvarieties, each was struck from a single die pair. It is believed that the three subvarieties were the last Wreath cents coined, in early July 1793. The Lettered Edge of these pieces continued to the Liberty Cap series. On July 6, 1793, the coiner delivered 11,825 coins to the treasurer. One additional delivery of 176 coins was dated July 17, 1793. In the past some have speculated that the Strawberry Leaf cents were the odd 176 coins delivered July 17. Breen pointed out the Vine and Bars Edge of those coins, asking why they would have been produced after all of the Lettered Edge coins were struck.
In Early American Cents, Sheldon described a scene from one of the Chapman brothers, probably Henry, who actually employed Sheldon for a period of time: "Chapman used to have a special box in which he kept quantities of 3-C's, 9-H's, and 11-J's [Sheldon-3, 9, 11], and this was always the first box brought out for prospective customers who 'wanted to see some 1793 cents.' More carefully guarded stocks were brought forth only if the customer displayed enough knowledge of the coins to warrant such a courtesy."
Once prepared for engraving, the steel die body was sent to the engraver. Sholley explains: "To hand-cut a die, the engraver would first trace the layout onto the surface of the die, and then, using various gravers, gouges, and scribers, cut the major designs into the die. Punching in or cutting the letters, numerals, and border details then completed the die. The die would then be lapped to remove any extraneous metal pushed up by the engraving and punching."
Provenance. Oscar Pearl (Numismatic Gallery FPL, 1944), lot 11, $625; Walla Walla Coin Co.; Robert Burggraff (6/1963), lot 558; Jonah Shapiro; Lester Merkin (10/1966), lot 91, $3,200; Herbert Oechsner; Lelan Rogers; Jonathan Kern (2/1994); Dr. Thomas Turissini.
Personality. Herbert Oechsner formed an impressive cabinet over several decades. In the catalog of his collection, offered by Stack's in September 1988, the firm notes: "Classic numismatic collections in the finest tradition are marked by breadth of subject and depth of specialization. Bushnell, Earle, Stickney, Jenks, Garrett: the roll of famous names echoes down the generations. Herbert M. Oechsner strove for decades to build a truly comprehensive and broadly based collection on their model, seeking to balance specialization in certain series with representative examples from the entire world of numismatic collecting." (NGC ID# 223J, Variety PCGS# 35477, Base PCGS# 1350)
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