What makes an 1839 Coronet cent a 'Silly Head' example?

Market Analysis: Stack’s Bowers offers Twin Leaf Collection, Part II, at Baltimore Expo
By , Coin World
Published : 04/14/16
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On March 30 as part of the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Expo, Stack’s Bowers Galleries offered Part II of the Twin Leaf Collection of Middle and Late Date Large Cents. The collection was assembled over two decades by a devoted collector and while the finest examples were sold in July 2015, the recent offering showcased duplicates, although, as the catalog noted, “It was a challenge to pick the best coin [for the 2015 auction] since quality was always a guiding light in the assemblage of this collection.” As such, the 2016 offering was noteworthy in its own right.

The Coin:

1839 Coronet cent, Newcomb 2, Silly Head design, MS-66 brown

The Price:

$4,456

The Story:

The top-graded coin in Part II of the Twin Leaf offering was this 1839 Coronet cent graded Mint State 66 brown by Professional Coin Grading Service. The variety is listed as N-9 in Howard R. Newcomb’s book United States Copper Cents, 1816-1857, and this example was once in Newcomb’s collection, which was sold in 1945. It later went to the Floyd Starr Collection and Ted Naftzger sold it into the Twin Leaf Collection in 2001. In Baltimore it sold for $4,465 and is of a late die state obverse die, evidenced by a network of thick die cracks including a prominent one that bisects the die.

COIN VALUES: What is your 1839 Coronet cent worth?

The colorfully named “Silly Head” varieties are always popular with collectors and are perhaps best identified by a small hole-like indentation by Liberty’s ear. This variant of the portrait, along with the “Booby Head” 1839 Coronet cents, is presumably the work of Christian Gobrecht as he modified Liberty’s head.

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