US Coins

1793 Flowing Hair Chain cents in box under bed

An 89-year-old Delaware woman has kept a treasure trove of coins stored in a box under her bed for decades.

She decided recently that, at her age, it was time to liquidate the accumulation so that the net proceeds could help benefit her family.

The coins were handed down through several generations in the woman’s family, to the women in the family. The woman, who requested anonymity, inherited the coins upon her mother’s death.

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The coins were apparently amassed by the woman’s grandmother, who worked as a cross stitcher on women’s clothing for an apparel firm on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.

While the assemblage includes some foreign coins, the bulk of the coins are United States issues, with examples representing just about all denominations from half cent through $20 double eagles.

Included in the box was an envelope containing two coins and a note from the woman’s mother indicating that she believed the two coins were valuable based on some numismatic research she had conducted on her own.

The two coins turned out to be 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, AMERICA, No Periods cents from among the first production at the Philadelphia Mint of the denomination for circulation.

One of the coins has been graded and encapsulated Fine 12 by Professional Coin Grading Service and the other was graded Fine 15 by PCGS, in conjunction with the Whitman Baltimore Coin Expo Nov. 9 to 12.

While the PCGS grading insert did not include a variety attribution, a large cent specialist to whom Coin World emailed images of the coins identified them as being of the Sheldon 3 die marriage, as cataloged in William H. Sheldon’s Penny Whimsy.

The two coins are consigned to Rago Arts & Auction Center in Lambertville, New Jersey, for sale in a March 16, 2018, auction.

Dissemination of the Delaware woman’s collection is being handled by Joe Piane from Assorted Past Antiques in Bear, Delaware.

Unexpected finds

Piane told Coin World he is still going through the accumulation of coins owned by the Delaware woman to determine what other interesting coins the assemblage may contain. Once that assessment is made, Piane said he will meet with the woman to discuss the best course to liquidate the property.

Piane said he was contacted recently by the woman in conjunction with one of two free appraisal gatherings he holds monthly at a local senior center.

Piane said he eventually met with the woman at her home to examine the coins she talked about that her grandmother apparently had accumulated.

Piane determined that the woman’s mother, to whom the coins had been bequeathed by her mother, had taken a more noticeable interest in the coins.

While most of the coins stored in the box under the Delaware woman’s bed were loose or separated into envelopes, some were housed in Whitman coin folders by denomination and series, including one folder for a U.S. type set.

Piane said the coins included 18th and 19th century half cents and large cents, 2-cent coins, copper-nickel and silver 3-cent coins, 5-cent coins from different series, early Bust half dimes and dimes, Seated Liberty coinage of several denominations, Bust half dollars, Barber coinage, some early 20th century issues, and a number of gold coins.

Piane said the woman’s family was not rich, but the grandmother found value in putting the coins away so that her family could one day benefit from her frugality and foresight.

Piane said there still are many interesting coins waiting to be discovered or rediscovered.

Another surprise find

Piane added to the same March auction a 1793 Liberty Cap cent, S-13 die marriage, that he recently purchased with a group of worn British pennies in a junk tray at a local antiques shop.

“I was in a local antique shop and in a small dish were approximately 10 or so British pennies ranging from 1750 to 1920, approximate dates, the whole dish was $5,” Piane said. “I bought the whole dish. Amongst them was the Liberty Cap; I could see where someone lightly rubbed where the date was and they must have given up and just tossed it back with the others. Needless to say it was the best $5 I ever spent.”

PCGS has certified the Liberty Cap cent as PCGS Genuine, Environmental Damage, Very Good Details. 

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