Among the factors that make Early American coins popular with
collectors and researchers is that they were struck with dies often
hand-engraved, often with charming results.
This individuality can be seen on this 1787 Connecticut copper with
a large head on the obverse, historically called the “Mutton Head”
variety. An example, graded Very Fine 25 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp.
sold for $1,057.50 at Heritage's May 16 auction of St. Louis
numismatist Eric P. Newman's collection. The auction continued on May
17 and more than $11 million in Early American coins changed hands at
The series has numerous odd designs that have been assigned
distinctive names by numismatists and that have been accepted into the
hobby over time, including the “African Head,” “Laughing Head” and
“Horned Bust,” among other clever names.
Heritage writes in its lot description: “The Muttonhead copper is
one of the most famous and popular varieties in the Connecticut
series, and it is also one of the most plentiful. The term Muttonhead
expresses a low opinion of a person’s intelligence.”
The firm described the surfaces as “attractive with a combination of
golden-tan, steel-brown, and mahogany patina,” adding, “A few ancient
scratches and microscopic granularity do little to diminish the eye appeal.”