1793 Vine and Bars Wreath Cent
1793 1C Wreath, Vine and Bars, AU50 PCGS. CAC. S-10, B-10, R.4.
Our EAC Grade XF40. Thick Stem / Punctuated Legend. The leaf
sprig on the obverse has a thick, vertical stem that widens at its
end and terminates between the 9 and 3. The obverse is usually
identified by the border flaw at 2:30. The reverse has a period
S-10, B-10, AU50
1793 Cent Coinage -- Dies
Among the many hurdles facing the officers and employees at the Philadelphia Mint was producing the steel dies needed for coinage. Before the dies could be cut, actual steel die blanks had to be forged. Sholley writes that the process was quite difficult and "at its inception, the Mint had no one in its employ with any substantive experience in forging dies." There were no available texts describing the processes, as the principles were yet unknown.
Blister steel was the most common form of steel available at the time. Bars of wrought iron were heated along with charcoal for several days, eventually diffusing the wrought iron with carbon, creating steel. The resulting blister steel was inhomogeneous with a varied structure that included areas of unconverted iron, along with slag and air pockets. Several years passed before Mint employees became proficient in making steel dies.
Die life was a problem during the first two years of Mint operations in 1793 and 1794; the average die lasted fewer than 20,000 strikes. The problems that began with poor steel were compounded during use with die cracks and breaks, bulges created when the dies faces sank from the striking pressure, and other defects, not to mention clash marks that resulted when the dies struck each other without an intervening planchet.
Another problem in producing dies was engraving the designs. A complex array of gravers and punches were employed to hand-cut the dies, one intricate detail at a time. The process was time-consuming and led to various blunders. Eventually, partial hubs were developed to simplify the process, containing major design elements such as the head for the obverse and the wreath for the reverse. Despite some experimentation, complete hubs containing all die details were not a reality until the mid-1830s. Hand-engraved dies were used in 1793 and 1794, and that individual die engraving led to the many varieties collectors appreciate today.
The Loring 1793 S-10 Cent
Breen Die State I, with border beads remaining at the obverse die flaw. Both sides exhibit mottled light brown and olive color with splashes of greenish-steel patina over surfaces that retain traces of tan luster. The surfaces are glossy and attractive with only a few trivial marks, none of use for pedigree purposes. Tiny planchet cracks extend inward from the reverse border to the tops of F, the first A in AMERICA, and the E in the same word, the only pedigree-confirming marks on either side. The strike is solid, including full, sharp border beads on both sides, except at the obverse border flaw at 3 o'clock seen on all known examples.
Ex: Bowers and Merena (11/1995), lot 3144; Thomas D. Reynolds.
From The Denis W. Loring Collection of 1793 Large Cents.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 223J, PCGS# 1347)
Weight: 13.48 grams
Metal: 100% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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