A century ago in Philadelphia, the U.S. Mint was operating under
the cloud of the War of 1812, which had begun the previous June. 1813
saw the success of Oliver Hazard Perry over the British fleet at the
Battle of Lake Erie.
Future President William Henry Harrison commanded troops during
the Battle of Thames, where the death of Tecumseh, the famous Shawnee
warrior, left the Indian coalition without a strong leader, leading to
the collapse of native support for the British.
The Mint was still dealing with a lack of copper planchets for
production — shipments from England were unavailable due to the war.
Previously, Matthew Boulton and James Watt produced the half cent and
large cent planchets in England and shipped them to the Philadelphia
Mint ready for coinage. Now the Mint had to find its own copper and
manufacture the copper planchets from scratch.
The result was a limited mintage of 418,000 for the 1813 Classic
Head cent, from two obverse and two reverse dies, each paired only
once. Neither is rare, but as with all the years of this type, they
are very elusive in original brown condition.
The only silver coin produced during 1813 was the Capped Bust half
dollar, with a mintage of 1,241,903 pieces. Seven obverse dies and
eight reverse dies were used to produce 10 die marriages. No rare
marriages exist for the year but the popular Overton 101 (Early
Half Dollar Die Varieties, 1794-1836 by Al C. Overton, edited
by Donald Parsley) showing the die cutting error of 50C over UNI,
sells for a premium.
A couple of other marriages sell for slightly more than type
price, but none will prevent the average collector from completing a
marriage set for the year.
Many of the half dollars from this year were struck from worn-out
dies, showing clash marks and die cracks. Those of us who love the
late die state coins have a cornucopia of choices to fill our
collections. Finding coins that still exhibit original surfaces is
very difficult but can be done with a little luck and patience.
The gold $5 half eagle, like the half dollar, was the only gold
denomination minted during the year. Only 95,428 pieces were struck,
from a single die pairing. Although the mintage seems very low, it is
one of the more common dates in this type.
Collectors will still have a difficult time locating an original
example, as many were melted or cleaned since 1813. Discovering that
elusive deep yellow-gold coin for your collection will greatly reward
The year 1813 provides a challenge for the die marriage collector,
but a set can be completed, even on a budget. There are no die
Brad Karoleff is a vice president of the John Reich Collectors
Society and editor of the club’s journal. He can be reached via email