Finding obsolete coinage while searching through rolls is what many
of us strive for.
Any time we unfurl the end of a roll and pour its contents onto
our tables, we fervently hope to see some kind of unusual numismatic
treasure staring back at us from within the pile of coins that appears
Imagine my surprise recently when a very worn and very old copper
piece fell out of a roll of what should have been all United States
While I occasionally find a very old, bronze half penny of Great
Britain or Ireland, rarely do I find a United States coin that is as
obsolete as the U.S. large cent illustrated here.
Although extremely worn, this dateless U.S. large cent can still
be identified as a subtype known by collectors of old 100 percent
copper coins as a Coronet, Matron Head cent.
The obverse was designed by Robert Scot and the reverse by John
Reich. This design was struck from 1816 through 1839.
The obverse bears a design of an older, more matronly looking
Liberty (thus the Matron Head name) facing to the left and wearing a
coronet. The Coronet design was introduced in 1816 in somewhat
In the case of unworn examples, 13 stars would be seen encircling
Liberty’s head with the date placed under the bust.
Of course, on this particular coin, those details are almost
obliterated. Still, we can see most of the word LIBERTY as it appears
on Liberty’s crown.
The design on the reverse of these coins includes the legend
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA encircling a wreath. Inside the wreath the
denomination ONE CENT is spelled out with the word ONE above the word
CENT. The word CENT also has a line under it.
On the example shown above, remnants of the legend can be seen to
the left. A few letters of ONE CENT are also still visible.
There is no doubt that this old large cent saw some heavy
circulation but even with the details as flattened as they are, this
coin is still an unusually appealing example of a early large cent.
Keeping in mind that this coin was found amongst a group of
Anthony, Sacagawea and Presidential dollar coins, I continue to be
fascinated by the great coins that can be found in rolls.
While this coin is not worth a fortune financially, it has a value
to me far beyond the potential dollar amount that can be attributed to
a find of this type. After all, how often do you get to say that you
found a U.S. large cent in a modern roll of coins?
Email me with your finds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I like to hear about your finds.
Bill O’Rourke is a collector who has spent the past several years
searching coin rolls in pursuit of his hobby.