US Coins

1793 Wreath cent valued between $9K and $13K goes unsold at sale

This 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent graded ANACS Very Fine 20 went unsold at an estimate of $9,000 to $13,000 at Scotsman’s July 18 auction.

Images courtesy of Scotsman Auctions

The following post is pulled from Coin World editor Steve Roach’s Market Analysis column in the Aug. 11 issue.

Scotsman’s Midwest Summer Sale, held July 18, 2014, in St. Louis, brought $1,124,107. Among the lots offered were several 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cents. It is a scarce one-year large cent type that is in demand from both early copper aficionados and type collectors.

When buying this type of early copper, a buyer has to often balance a variety of issues inherent in a hand-produced copper coin more than two centuries old.

Here is one of three from recent auctions that showcase the varied market for this tough issue below $10,000:

The coin: 1793 Wreath cent, Very Fine 20

The price: Unsold at an estimate of $9,000 to $13,000.

The story: Mid-range 1793 Wreath cents in grades including Very Fine have wide variances in the prices that they bring at auction. Some are gorgeous, with smooth chestnut brown surfaces while others might have light porosity or rim damage that is not substantial enough to put the coin into a net-graded holder, but still impacts the appeal. 

The most handsome VF-20 pieces might bring $12,000 at auction, and an example in the Scotsman auction was estimated at the $9,000 to $13,000 level. 

The ANACS VF-20 piece, a Lettered Edge variety (S-11b), went unsold.  

The catalog entry notes that the coin has details that stand up “unexpectedly well” to the finest known example of the variety, “with the most obvious difference noticeable in the lack of deeper fine lines within the broadest portion of the tresses.”

The description fleshes out the compromises that often go into this mid-range grade, writing, “attractive chestnut-brown patina goes a long way to making the eye-appeal what it is, and by comparison to the usual parade of corroded examples, any collector would be delighted to add a caramel-smooth and bold example such as this to his set. A couple of rim dings will be noted on the obverse, but they go with the territory at the commercial VF grade level.”

The firm offered a third 1793 Wreath cent, graded Professional Coin Grading Service About Uncirculated 50, that also went unsold, at an estimate of $32,000 to $40,000.

Read the rest of Steve Roach's Aug. 11 Market Analysis:

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