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    1794 S-48 Starred Reverse Cent, VF35
    The Discovery Coin
    Tied for Fifth Finest Known

    1794 1C Head of 1794, S-48, B-38, Low R.5, VF20 Bland, VF20 Noyes; VF35 PCGS Secure. Lovely olive and chocolate-brown surfaces host a few scattered marks and faint hairlines that have no effect on this cent's beauty or importance. The strike is sharp and well-centered, and every individual star is fully visible. The reverse has a short, thin scratch across the lowest inside leaf in the left branch of the wreath.

    Variety Equivalents: Maris 51, Doughty 24, Hays 8, Chapman 30.

    Obverse 21: Doubled Dentil Left of 1. A Short Bust obverse with a gap between the shoulder and hair, and no shoulder loop. The 7 and 9 are much closer than the other digits. A doubled dentil is just left of the 1. This obverse is found on S-47, S-48, S-49, and NC-9.

    Reverse W: Starred Reverse. The reverse border has 94 small stars intermixed with the border dentils, and some of the stars are overlapped by dentils. An isolated extra berry is positioned above the berry at AM. This reverse is found only on S-48.

    Die State II: There are no obverse clash marks, and the repunching on LI of LIBERTY is no longer visible, but there is no evidence of die bulging that develops on the reverse.

    Rarity and Census: A number of low grade Starred Reverse cents have been uncovered in recent years, and the rarity is likely on the cusp of dropping to High R.4. Del Bland lists 72 different examples in his census at However, the new specimens have no effect on the condition census, and this discovery coin is still tied for fifth finest known, a position it has held since before Walter Breen's Large Cent Encyclopedia was published in 2000. Bill Noyes grades this piece VF20 with Average surfaces and alone in the fifth spot in his census.

    Commentary: This is without a doubt the highlight of Al Boka's collection of 1794 large cents. The Starred Reverse is the variety that every serious collector wants to own, and here we have an exceptional census-level piece that has impressive historical importance. The obverse and reverse are illustrated in Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth's 100 Greatest U.S. Coins.

    According to numismatic lore, the Chapman Brothers were examining large cents in 1877 while Dr. Edward Maris observed. Henry stated: "Here is a die with minute stars around the reverse." Maris confirmed that the variety was previously unknown. The present example from the Boka Collection is the very same cent that Henry Chapman held in his hands when he discovered the variety.

    Boka Commentary: I learned of the possible availability of this highly desirable Starred Reverse through the" rumor mill" and made contact with the owner, Richard Pearl. He knew of me from my book Provenance Gallery of the Year 1794 United States Large Cents that was published in 2005. We discussed this coin several times over the phone. Richard was keenly aware of the dignity of this "trophy piece" and sincerely cared about who its next owner would be. He felt that this coin should not be sold to "just anyone" looking to make a buck but to someone who would truly cherish it for the "right reasons." After several phone conversations we agreed to meet, he traveling from Florida and I from Las Vegas, face to face at the upcoming EAC convention in Annapolis. There, he "wanted to get to know me" in order to evaluate if I was worthy of owning this coin. We did meet and after an hour or so of "tête-à-tête" we agreed to a deal. We both walked away happy. I trust that someone "worthy" continues the provenance.

    Biography: Samuel A. Bispham was born in Philadelphia on October 14, 1796, and served the 1798 yellow fever epidemic. During that outbreak, his father moved the family to Morristown, New Jersey. After his father's death, Bispham returned to Philadelphia, working as a 14-year old in the grocery store of John Huyder. Five years later he formed a profitable partnership with Jacob Alter, their business continuing for about 16 years old. Bispham continued in the grocery and produce business until his death in 1885. The Bispham coin collection was sold by S.H. and H. Chapman on February 11-12, 1880 and included the Starred Reverse discovery coin that is offered here.

    Provenance: The discovery coin found by Chapman Bros. while looking through a box of large cents in 1878; Samuel A. Bispham (S.H. Chapman, 2/1880), lot 162; John W. Haseltine collection (John W. Haseltine, 3/1881), lot 771; C. T. Whitman (S.H. and H. Chapman, 8/1893), lot 826; Dr. Thomas Hall (9/7/1909); Virgil M. Brand (1934); Armin W. Brand (New Netherlands Coin Co. #34, 10/1951), lot 579; Willard C. Blaisdell 9/1974; Del Bland (1/2/1985); Jack H. Robinson (Superior Galleries, 1/1989), lot 84; Douglas F. Bird; David Henderson (Goldberg Coins, 2/2001), lot 266; Richard Pearl (4/23/2005); Jon Alan Boka.
    From The Jon Alan Boka Collection of 1794 Large Cents.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 223P, Variety PCGS# 35705, Base PCGS# 1374)

    Weight: 13.48 grams

    Metal: 100% Copper

    View all of [The Jon Alan Boka Collection of 1794 Large Cents ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    7th-11th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 28
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,152

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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