1793 S-2, B-3 Chain AMERICA Cent, AU55
1793 Chain 1C AMERICA AU55 PCGS. S-2, B-3, R.4. Our EAC Grade
VF35. Ex: Norweb/Hesselgesser. A splendid piece with smooth and
glossy medium golden-brown surfaces. Minor edge nicks are visible
below 93, above R in LIBERTY, and above UN, with a tiny nick at L,
a smaller nick in the right obverse field, and a faint hairline at
CA. Graded VF35 in the Norweb catalog, this piece is recorded in
the Noyes Census as tied for 11th finest known. Although graded
VF35 as it was in the Norweb sale, we feel strongly that it
deserves a full XF40 grade by EAC standards, and it seems to be
every bit the equal of the ninth finest specimen, the former Peter
Mougey-Homer Downing coin.
From the Famous Norweb Collection
Breen Die State II. The obverse is a reappearance of the die used for the Chain AMERI. cents, here with a bulge through the base of 793. Wavy clash marks appear in front of the face and below the bust, the result of die polishing after its earlier use. The new reverse die with its complete legend shows no evidence of clash marks. This reverse die remained in use for three additional varieties through the end of the Chain cent series.
Commentary. Mint records indicate that 36,103 Chain cents were coined, and Breen estimated 6,350 of those were the Chain AMERI. cents, meaning that the second reverse die with the complete legend lasted for nearly 30,000 additional cents.
Porous or corroded pieces are frequently encountered. Another source for general problems with these coins was the original source of copper. Sheet copper was not yet available from England, so Henry Voigt acquired scrap copper from local sources.
In his Encyclopedia of Large Cents, Breen discussed the problems with this locally available copper: "Scrap copper varied greatly in homogeneity, density, malleability, and hardness. This is partly from different trace elements and partly from the way the individual lumps had been treated in manufacture. This was a most unsatisfactory expedient; the coiner's department learned quickly that different ingots cast from it varied greatly , with far too many gas bubbles. Strip rolled from these ingots came out with too many cavities and laminations. Many surviving Chain cents accordingly show such flaws."
Given the copper problems that Breen described, it is perhaps surprising that any nice pieces still exist.
Market Notes. PCGS has certified 11 1793 Chain AMERICA cents in AU55, and 15 finer, but most of those are examples of Sheldon-3.
Provenance. Purchased by Albert Holden prior to 1913 for $56.50; Norweb Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/1988), lot 2685; Auction '89, lot 1534; Superior (1/1993), lot 33; Superior (6/1997), lot 39; Robert C. Clark (Bowers and Merena, 8/2000), lot 206; Robert Hesselgesser; Aspen Collection (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1500.
From The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 223F, PCGS# 1341)
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