US Coins

1793 cent flawed but charming

Collector Jim Neiswinter’s collection of 1793 to 1839 large cents was sold by Ira and Larry Goldberg in the firm’s Jan. 27 Pre-Long Beach auction. The offering began with the 1793 cents, including a 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, AMERI. cent that sold for $33,600.

Of course, not all 1793 large cents are prohibitively expensive. One of the most charming cents in Neiswinter’s collection was this Sheldon 8 (cataloged by Dr. William H. Sheldon in his book Penny Whimsy) 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath, Vine and Bars Edge cent graded Professional Coin Grading Service Good Details, Planchet Flaw. The first two digits of the date are faint, but the 93 is relatively clear. As a one-year type the date is not necessary for identification, but collectors generally prefer lower-grade coins to have dates. It brought $1,200. 

The cataloger starts with its positive attributes writing, “Rather glossy steel brown and chocolate. The devices are smooth but fine roughness covers the fields and protected areas on both sides. No verdigris.” 

The cent was struck on a flawed planchet at the Philadelphia Mint, which is not uncommon for the earliest copper issues. The result is a diagonal fissure across the obverse and a shallow delamination affecting the sprig and right half of the date. The reverse is relatively unaffected by the break and the Mint-made defect reminds collectors today of the effort it must have taken to produce a large amount of coins in the first year of cent production at the U.S. Mint. 

Neiswinter concluded his catalog’s introduction, “I hope everyone gets the cent or cents they want, just keep your hand up until you do.” 

When asked what he’ll collect next, his friend John Adams suggested medals, saying that they are a reverse sticker shock from the price of 1793 cents.

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