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The Varieties Of Classic Head Large Cents

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 Posted 12/19/2022  8:53 pm Show Profile   Check CarrsCoins's eBay Listings Bookmark this topic Add CarrsCoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Picking up a decent Classic Head Large Cent for your type set is often one of the big bottlenecks to completing the 7070 album. The entire type has a short production run and the coins themselves are often ugly, damaged and heavily worn. Once you've decided to spend a couple hundred bucks for a penny (and avoided getting divorced for doing so) completing the entire date run, Red Book set or even the variety set become very achievable.

Designed by engraver John Reich the Classic Head Large Cents were minted from 1808 to 1814. The design is called the Classic Head due to its similarities to the statuary of classical Greece. Liberty wears a fillet, inscribed with the word liberty across the brow, that is reminiscent of the awards given at ancient athletic competitions. The design was the product of several major advancements in American hub and die making and represented a substantial increase in uniformity across the entire series.

Classic Head Cents were a struck on nearly pure copper blanks purchased from Matthew Boulton of the Soho Mint in Handsworth, West Midlands, England. These blanks were shipped across the Atlantic ocean and used as ballast in the bottoms of the shipping vessels. The exposure to bilgewater combined with the blanks high purity created a perfect storm for corroded and pitted coins. Most of the Classic Head Cents you will see today are black with granular or pitted surfaces.

The series consists of 19 die varieties. The dies used to strike these coins had remarkably long life, averaging about 300,000 coins per die. That's more than 20 times the life of dies used just 15 years earlier. Because of this long lifespan there are no rare classic head varieties. The rarest variety is R-3 (201-600 copies believed to survive today).

I added a bit of historical context for each date. Some of them I knew. Some were shamelessly ripped from Wikipedia. I own all of these coins except the 1810 restrike.

1808
Mintage - 1,007,000

On January 1 of this year the importation of slaves was banned in the United States. In December Beethoven introduces the world to Symphony No.5 at a benefit concert in Vienna.

S-277 R-2
This is often called the 12 star variety. The first star is often weak or completely missing due to a large die crack on the reverse opposite the star.



S-278 R-3
There are a small number of coins from this die pair struck on oversized 30mm planchets. It is unclear if they are from mis-cut Boulton blanks or if they were made from some other source such as tokens or foreign coins.



S-279 R-1
Though much more common in circulated conditions than the other 1808 varieties this variety is very difficult to locate in higher grade.



1809
Mintage - 222,867

On April 10th the Napoleonic wars begin when the Austrian Empire invades Bavaria. May 17 Napoleon annexes the Papal States. In response the pope excommunicates him. In August the USS Constitution is recommissioned as the flagship of the American North Atlantic squadron. The Constitution is the oldest military ship still floating.

S-280 R-2
The only die marriage for this year. 1809 is the "key" date for the series. There is a small die crack under the ES on statES into the wreath that is diagnostic and can be used to identify dateless coins. This has been called the 1809/8 and the 1809 over smaller 9.



1810
Mintage - 1,458,500

The first Oktoberfest takes place when Bavarian royalty celebrates the wedding of the crown prince. King George III is declared insane. The United States annexes the Republic of West Florida.

All the cents of this year have the top lock of hair individually engraved and that lock can be a useful tool for identifying the varieties. 1810 is easily the most common year of Classic Head Cents. A good year to target for your type set, they are all quite similar and there isn't much to say about their variations.

S-281 R-1
The 1810/09 has a bold and clear overdate.



S-282 R-2



S-283 R-2



S-284 R-3



S-285 R-2



1810 Restrike
This has the same reverse as the 1804 restrike. Struck in tin. Two copies are known to exist. Likely produce by Joseph Mickley. I had the opportunity to handle this copy a number of years ago when it belonged to Doug Bird. Doug is one of the people who taught be how to handle large cents and other than my father is the person from whom I learned the most about numismatics. Photo is from the Goldberg auction catalog of Doug's collection.


1811
Mintage - 218,025

The Great Comet of 1811 is visible to the naked eye for 260 days. The New Madrid earthquake centered in New Madrid, Missouri temporarily reverses the flow of the Mississippi river.

S-286 R-3
1811/0 overdate. This is the true rarity of the classic head series. It commands significant premiums and is unknown in mint state.



S-287 R-2
Normal date. This is an underrated rarity. The mintage and survival is undoubtedly lower than that of the 1809 but because the 1809 has been declared "The Key" the prices don't reflect that scarcity.



1812
Mintage - 1,075,500

June 1 President James Madison asks congress to declare war on England and on June 18th The War of 1812 begins. This put a stop to the import of blanks for copper coinage as there was an import embargo. July 12th America invades Canada. In December Grimm's Fairy Tales are published for the first time in Germany.

S-288 R-2
Large date



S-289 R-1
Large date. There was a small hoard. Many mint state and AU examples exist.



S-290 R-1
Small date. There was a small hoard of mint state examples. This coin is available nice.



S-291 R-2
Small date. Found axially misaligned with the strongest strike around 10:30 on the obverse. This coin is hard to find in mint state.



1813
Mintage - 418,000

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is published anonymously in January. The Plague (yes.that plague) spreads for Malta to Egypt. The War of 1812, the Napoleonic Wars, the Mexican War of Independence, and the Russo-Prussian War rage across Europe and North America.

S-292 R-2
Star 13 is far from the date



S-293 R-2
Star 13 is close to the 3 in the date



1814

The Great Stock Exchange Fraud was exposed in London, proving that war profiteering is nothing new. In November Vice President Eldridge Gerry (the namesake for the term Gerrymandering) dies of heart failure. He is not replaced. on December 24th the Treaty of Ghent is signed officially ending The War of 1812.

Mintage - 357,830
S-294 R-1
Crosslet 4



S-295 R-1
Plain 4. Possibly the best preserved of all Sheldon cents. They are plentiful. It is often the case that the last year of a type is well preserved. The public saves them. This is another good target for the type set collector. I have a nicer coin in my set but its in a slab that is scratched. I plan to crack it out one of these days but havent done so yet.


I collect low grade large cents. I currently have >230 Sheldon varieties and >235 middle date Newcomb varieties.
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 Posted 12/19/2022  9:16 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Early copper + a wealth of historical information is a great combo. Please, keep sharing!

I only have a few Classic Heads, sold a couple here and there, but what amazes me is that many of yours are quite choice for what is a very tough series to find choice coins in. The S-287 in particular is a dang difficult coin to find without major issues in any grade.
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 Posted 12/20/2022  02:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add GERMANICVS to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Very nice assembly of Classic Dates!
My goodness, Carrs, how long have you been collecting?

I only have a few, just 8 or 9 Classic Heads in my collection...

You mention 1811 is scarcer than 1809. I was not aware of that.
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 Posted 12/20/2022  03:37 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you for the excellent summary. Although I do not collect these coins I thoroughly enjoyed reading your journey through the series and viewing the photos.
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.jk-dk.art
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 12/20/2022  05:16 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add smat45 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
If Highschool was this interesting...I would have sat in the front row!
smat
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 Posted 12/20/2022  09:45 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kanga to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Since my main collection is a US Type Set, I only have one Classic Head Large Cent.
If I can get this right here are the images:


Yep, just as I thought.
I tried a shortcut and it didn't work.
I'll see what I can do about that.
Describe it as if there were no picture.
Picture it as if there were no description.
Edited by kanga
12/20/2022 09:47 am
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 Posted 12/20/2022  09:51 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Coinfrog to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Most informative, thank you!
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 Posted 12/20/2022  12:08 pm  Show Profile   Check CarrsCoins's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add CarrsCoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@paralyse - thanks! I like that 287 a lot as well. there are some coins in this pile I would like to upgrade (1811/0 I'málooking at you)

@ gemanivs - I bought my first large cent in 1992 and have been collecting coins ever since.
here is that coin. I bought it for $1. it was arguably the most expensive $1 purchase of my life.



i should clarify what I was saying about 1809 vs 1811. I think there are less of each of the 1811 variants than there are total 1809s. for a date run the 1809 seems to be a touch harder than 1811 but if you want to do the RedBook set or a variety set the 1811s are going to be as hard or harder.

the mintage between the two years is close with a slightly lower mintage in 1811. the 11/0 represents about 1/3 of the surviving 1811s. so a mintage estimate of ~70k 1811/0, ~140k 1811 normal date and ~220k 1809s seems reasonable for napkin math. they are all scarce coins but the 1809 costs almost 2x the 1811 in circulated grades. PCGS has strait graded similar numbers of 1809s (228) and 1811 regular dates (238) and significantly fewer 11/0s (109).

my experience is that it is easier to find an 1809 but the 09 will cost more. years ago there was a "key date" phenomenon similar to the conditional rarity insanity numismatics is gripped by today. dealers would find the bottleneck for each set and ratchet the price of the coin waaaay up. 1823 large cents are similar. they arent scarcer than the 1821 but they cost about 3x the 1821. 1857 vs 1849 braided hair is in the same boat.
I collect low grade large cents. I currently have >230 Sheldon varieties and >235 middle date Newcomb varieties.
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 Posted 12/20/2022  1:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add paralyse to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I still have my first Large Cent as well, an 1848 that I bought in the early 1990s for $15 in Rogers/Springdale area, Arkansas
I promptly cleaned it as soon as I got home with it.

Many times, perceived scarcity / being a so-called "key date" drives value more than actual scarcity or condition scarcity.

I often use 1909 S-VDB / 1914-D / 1926-S wheat cents to show that disparity.

1909 S-VDB in 65RD lists around $7500
1914-D in 65RD lists around $18.5k
1926-S in 65RD? Fork out $120k.

Ask an uninformed or relatively new collector which of the three is worth the most money and 1909 S-VDB will usually be the answer most of the time, because it's "famous" as a key date.
However, more of them were saved and in higher grades, being a new design and with all the talk about those three little initials on the reverse.
In reality, 1909 S-VDB is easier to find (and less expensive) in 65RD than many of the other S mint Wheats in the 1910s and 1920s.
Longhorn Coins & Exonumia
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 Posted 12/20/2022  2:02 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Fantastic coins and background information.


Quote:
...is often one of the big bottlenecks to completing the 7070 album
Indeed. While it is only the fifth most expensive coin in my 7070, it has the lowest grade of those five by far.
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 Posted 12/20/2022  2:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Jakes Coins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great info & nice coins especially the 1813 S-292 R-2 & 1814 S-294 R-1
I've been collecting for a couple years (2017). Favorite Coin's are Standing Liberty quarters, Working on my type set: "knowledge is power" -Thomas Jefferson | Coffee, Corvettes, Coins & the CCF what could be better?
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 Posted 12/21/2022  11:02 am  Show Profile   Check CarrsCoins's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add CarrsCoins to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thats a great addition to the point I was trying to make paralyse! excellent example.

@ jbuck - I had a pretty similar experience the last time I did a 7070. I'máthe large cent guy locally so I get a bunch of people working on type sets stopping by. they usually arent very happy with the classic heads that fit in their price range. the base model is ugly and a decent looking coin gets pretty expensive.

@ jakes coins- that 1814 fills me with mixed emotions. its so close to being a knock out coin but the damage is pretty significant. in pictures it breaks my heart. in hand that dent is right where my finger sits when I hold it so its almost like its just a really nice coin. thats a several thousand dollar dent right there.
I collect low grade large cents. I currently have >230 Sheldon varieties and >235 middle date Newcomb varieties.
Edited by CarrsCoins
12/21/2022 11:03 am
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 Posted 12/21/2022  12:10 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add jbuck to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
the base model is ugly and a decent looking coin gets pretty expensive.
That is the truth! I finally found an "affordable" one that spoke to me, "I did my job and survived to tell the tale."
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 Posted 12/22/2022  01:02 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add Oldgrouchyguy to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great coins! Worth multiples of Bid in really choice glossy brown... saw a raw 1811/0 choice brown VG bring 1200 on ebay several years ago. If you are offered a nice brown no-problem Classic Head anywhere near Bid, just buy it-even the 1814's. Can't go wrong
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 Posted 12/22/2022  07:30 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add kenwright396 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Nice information and collection, thanks for sharing.
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 Posted 12/22/2022  1:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add burfle23 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Cool post!

I picked up a couple at EAC St. Louis- images aren't great and coins look better in hand:



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