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    1794 S-31, B-13 Cent, MS64 Brown
    Condition Census Specimen

    1794 1C Head of 1794 MS64 Brown PCGS. S-31, B-13, R.1. Our EAC Grade MS60. Ex: Dan Holmes Collection. Breen Die State II. The dies are lapped to remove clash marks, with prominent field chips. There are no other die defects on either side of this specimen. Full borders, sharp details, and excellent centering indicate the quality of the strike; the obverse appears sharper than the reverse. A highly appealing Mint State example with gorgeous steel-brown color and hints of pale blue toning. Both sides have uniform mint frost. A faint diagonal mark below CENT will help trace the provenance of this piece.

    Commentary. The Marred Field. Fraction bar long, extending past 100 to the left and right. The obverse appears on S-30 and S-31. The reverse appears on S-31. Lettered Edge, leaf points up. Sheldon identified three different obverse dies with chips in the field. He assigned obverse 11 to S-30, obverse 12 to S-31, and obverse 17 to S-38, S-39, S-40, and NC-2. Bill Noyes considered S-30 and S-31 to be from the same obverse die and the remaining varieties from a second die. Walter Breen felt that all six die varieties are from a single obverse. There are many similarities to the obverses of all six, such as the border dentilation, with exactly 85 dentils on each variety. There are also several differences that suggest Sheldon's assessment was correct.

    In Early American Cents and Penny Whimsy, Sheldon wrote: "This obverse shows nearly the same little breaks in the field, or chips out of the die, as the preceding one, but now they are larger or more developed. The peculiar similarity of these injuries remains a source of numismatic mystery. Maris, Frossard, Hays, and Chapman thought that the two obverses came from totally different dies, but others have considered that obverse 12 is from the same hub die as obverse 11, although the many minor differences indicate that there must have been a great amount of retouching and retooling before obverse 12 was considered ready for use. I am inclined to this latter view. Possibly the engraver was disturbed over the manner in which obverse 11 seemed to blur out its reverse mate, and he may have approached the task of 'dressing down' this obverse with considerable energy."

    Sheldon-31 ranks among the most plentiful of all 1794 die marriages, and quite a few high-quality pieces are known. At least 20 examples of this variety exist in XF or better grades, many with above-average or choice surfaces. It is an excellent choice for collectors seeking an example to illustrate the type, or others who seek an example of each individual date.

    Census Notes. Del Bland grades three examples MS61 and six others MS60, including this piece. Bill Noyes grades just five pieces Mint State, including this coin and one other MS65 piece, considered tied for finest known. At least four Mint State examples were known at the time of Sheldon's publication of Penny Whimsy, and seven were recorded in the "Early Cent Revision" that appeared in the May 1973 issue of Penny-Wise. The "Early Cent Revision" was the initial attempt at updating Penny Whimsy, with much of that research incorporated in Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Large Cents. The revision was published through several editions of Penny-Wise in 1973 and 1974, and concentrated on updated Condition Census, rarity, and basal values, with that term revised to "basic value." The revision was a committee project undertaken by Dr. Sheldon, Denis Loring, Dorothy Paschal, Willard Blaisdell, Dane Nielsen, and John Wright.

    Provenance. Philip H. Ward, Jr. (Stack's, 4/1964), lot 799; Frank H. Masters, Jr. (RARCOA, 5/1971), lot 57; Jerry A. Bobbe; RARCOA; Bruce Todd; RARCOA; Allen Harriman; Auction '83 (Superior, 8/1983), lot 1522; Allen Harriman; Gary M. Ruttenberg; Dr. Allen Bennett (1/20/1998); Walter J. Husak (Heritage, 2/2008), lot 2033; Dan Holmes (Goldberg Coins, 9/2009), lot 50; Greg Hannigan.
    From The Adam Mervis Large Cent Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 223P, Variety PCGS# 35558, Base PCGS# 901374)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 100% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2014
    10th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 28
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,051

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