Oddly named 1787 Connecticut ‘Muttonhead’ copper brings $1,057.50 at Heritage's Newman auction

Early American coins often struck with charming hand-engraved dies
By Steve Roach , Coin World
Published : 05/27/14
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Among the factors that make Early American coins popular with collectors and researchers is that they were struck with dies often hand-engraved, often with charming results. 

This individuality can be seen on this 1787 Connecticut copper with a large head on the obverse, historically called the “Mutton Head” variety. An example, graded Very Fine 25 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. sold for $1,057.50 at Heritage's May 16 auction of St. Louis numismatist Eric P. Newman's collection. The auction continued on May 17 and more than $11 million in Early American coins changed hands at the sales. 

The series has numerous odd designs that have been assigned distinctive names by numismatists and that have been accepted into the hobby over time, including the “African Head,” “Laughing Head” and “Horned Bust,” among other clever names. 

Heritage writes in its lot description: “The Muttonhead copper is one of the most famous and popular varieties in the Connecticut series, and it is also one of the most plentiful. The term Muttonhead expresses a low opinion of a person’s intelligence.”

The firm described the surfaces as “attractive with a combination of golden-tan, steel-brown, and mahogany patina,” adding, “A few ancient scratches and microscopic granularity do little to diminish the eye appeal.” 

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