1795 Liberty Cap, Reeded Edge cent surfaces after more than five decades in hiding

Heritage Auctions to offer one of only 10 known examples at Jan. 7 public sale in Tampa, Fla.
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Published : 08/11/15
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Heritage Auctions news release:

1795 Reeded Edge large cent appears for the first time in 50 years

To be offered at auction, Jan. 7, 2016, at the Tampa, Fla., FUN convention

DALLAS – A 1795 Reeded Edge large cent, NGC VG Details – The 'House of Davis McKinney' Specimen – will be sold at auction for the first time in half a century on Jan. 7, 2016. It will be presented as part of the Heritage Platinum Night offerings held in conjunction with the Florida United Numismatists (FUN) Convention.

The coin is one of just 10 examples known and is the fifth finest of all the coins.

“The coin has been known to the large cent community since 1964, but has never been seen until now,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions. “It’s a thrill to handle this coin. Heritage is the only firm that has handled four different Reeded Edge large cents out of the 10 known. No other house has seen more than two of them.”

A coin dealer's list in 1964 offered a “1795 Sheldon-79 Reeded Edge cent” for sale – this very coin. That listing prompted large cent researcher Del Bland to record the coin in his Condition Census for the variety, although the coin was unseen at that time, and has been recorded as an "untraced" specimen in every published census since that time.

The Reeded Edge cent variety was discovered in 1862 when an example was described with a "Milled Edge." A second example appeared in an 1890 W. Elliot Woodward catalog, and is now part of the ANS Collection. The third example, and currently the finest known, was discovered in 1915 and grades VG8. Six others have been located since that time, and the current House of Davis McKinney specimen brings the census to 10 known examples.

The 1795 S-79 Reeded Edge cent is the rarest of nearly 300 Sheldon-numbered varieties, and it is rarer than 14 of the Sheldon NC varieties. The obverse and reverse dies of the famous Reeded Edge large cent were not used for any other varieties in 1795, simplifying the authentication process. NGC has certified this piece as VG Details, Corrosion. The present example is the fourth of 10 different examples that Heritage Auctions has handled. There have been 11 different firms or individuals who have handled or owned two different specimens. Just two people, Dr. William H. Sheldon and Denis W. Loring, have owned three different examples. Heritage is the only entity to handle four different examples of the 1795 Reeded Edge cent.

The purpose of the edge reeding is unknown, although past students of the series have speculated that the reeding served as an anti-counterfeiting device. About half of the original edge reeding remains visible on this example.

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