Florida collector Scott Nelson thought it a bit unusual April 7
when, not one, but two bidders requested that he end his eBay auction
early for an 1825 Coronet cent that he had posted only 15 minutes
before, so they could buy the coin outright.
Nelson did decide to end the auction early, but only to do a
little numismatic sleuthing, believing that what he was offering with
an opening bid of $10 might be worth considerably more. Intuition
proved he was right.
Even in Good 4 condition, Nelson’s coin may be worth 1,000 or more
times what he paid for it.
The 1825 Coronet cent Nelson said he purchased for $10 sometime in
2007 or 2008 is only the fourth confirmed example of the Newcomb 5
variety (United States Copper Cents 1816-1857 by Howard Newcomb) — a
variety rediscovered in November 2011 by collector Tom Deck.
Until Deck’s discovery through an eBay purchase for less than
$100, the variety’s existence had been in dispute since first
published in 1883 by researcher Frank D. Andrews.
After Deck’s discovery, two more examples of the variety surfaced
— one discovered by Virginia collector Henry Hettger, and the other by
Texas dealer Chris McCawley. And now Nelson’s coin can be added to the census.
Nelson considers himself a casual collector. He said when he
initially bought the 1825 cent on eBay he just considered it to be a
“I didn’t realize what I had until I went to resell it on eBay,
and within 15 minutes of listing the coin, I had emails from two
bidders asking if I would switch my auction to a Buy It Now, and
asking what I would be willing to sell it for,” Nelson said. “The
second bidder offered me $75 even though he stated that it would not
realize that price in an auction. It seemed odd that he would offer me
more than he thought it would even sell for.
“At that point, I quickly realized that I had something
interesting, although I had no idea it would be anything this major!
So I cancelled the listing until I could find out more about the coin.
I’m glad I did!”
Nelson said that on April 7, the same day he canceled his eBay
auction for the 1825 Coronet cent, he conducted a number of online
searches that led him to the story about Deck’s discovery piece for
the 1825 N-5 variety.
Coin World published an extensive story on Deck’s discovery in the
Jan. 23, 2012, issue.
Nelson said he subsequently contacted Deck through the latter’s
“I’m still amazed by all of this,” Deck said. “Basically, Scott
emailed me out of the blue, wondering what he had. I’m pretty sure he
just Googled ‘large cents’ and found me that way. When I saw a photo
of the coin, I was thinking, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me!’ ... I
remember emailing Scott back, telling him to call me, and that I had
some very exciting news for him.”
Deck also put Nelson in touch with John D. Wright, who has
collected and researched large cents for more than five decades, and
Bob Grellman, author of Attribution Guide for United States Large
Cents: 1840-1857, who partners with Chris McCawley in McCawley &
Grellman, The Copper Specialists.
Wright and Grellman both reviewed Nelson’s images of his coin,
while Grellman also examined the actual coin.
Nelson plans to offer his N-5 1825 Coronet cent at auction in
September through McCawley & Grellman, in conjunction with Ira
& Larry Goldberg Auctioneers.
Grellman, who cataloged Nelson’s coin for the auction, said it was
likely the coin would be submitted to Professional Coin Grading
Service for certification and encapsulation.
“I grade it Good 4” using Early American Coppers standards,
Grellman said. “It is comparable to the Deck coin with very slightly
better details. I have seen all four of the known examples. ... I have
been involved in placing the first three into good collections
privately. The Scott Nelson coin will be the first to be offered at
auction. My estimate of value is $10,000-UP.”
Grellman said Hettger found his Good 4 N-5 1825 Coronet cent in
2012 after reading the Coin World article detailing Deck’s discovery.
Grellman said he sold the coin in April 2012 to another collector on
Grellman said McCawley discovered his Very Fine 20, Net Fine 12
N-5 1825 Coronet cent among pieces he had owned for some time but had
not taken the time to attribute. McCawley took the time also after
reading the Coin World article. McCawley discovered his example in
August 2012. Grellman said he placed McCawley’s 1825 cent with another
collector on McCawley’s behalf in September.
Deck said he traded his discovery coin to McCawley in exchange for
a number of other early large cents he was seeking.
When Deck purchased his 1825 Coronet cent on eBay, it had been
attributed as the Newcomb 4 variety. The N-4 variety of 1825 Coronet
cent represents the marriage of obverse die 4 and reverse die D. For
decades, researchers had believed that both dies were used only in the
N-4 marriage, and not paired with other dies to create different varieties.
Numismatists determined that the N-5 coin bears the obverse 4 of
the N-4 pairing and the reverse J of the N-10 variety. The coins
validate the die pairing first reported in print in 1883 but listed as
“unknown” in Newcomb’s 1944 book with the N-5 catalog designation, and
later described in a 1992 book by Wright, The Cent Book: 1816-1839, as
a “fiction” and one of Andrews’ “few mistakes.” ■