A 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, Vine and Bars cent discovered in a box of
coins purchased for £10 in England was sold at auction early this year
separately for £24,200.
The winning price was the approximate equivalent of $41,500 in U.S.
funds, while the initial cost of the box of coins equaled about $17.
The new discovery came to the attention of the U.S. marketplace only
in late June.
The cent was consigned to TimeLine Auctions’ Feb. 5 and 6 sale,
where it was offered with a “Good Fine” obverse and “Very Fine”
reverse. The coin was sold “raw,” not in a grading service slab.
The price realized includes the buyer’s fee added to the closing
hammer price of £20,200 ($34,300).
The coin is attributed as the Sheldon 2 variety as cataloged in
William H. Sheldon’s large cent reference, Early American
Cents, later renamed Penny Whimsy. Fewer than 150 examples
of the Sheldon 2 variety of 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, Vine and Bars
cent are believed extant.
That initial box of coins — whose contents otherwise comprised
mostly low-grade British copper coins bearing the portrait of either
King George II or Queen Victoria — was being sold as the result of a
British home being emptied, according to TimeLine Auctions. The
purchaser took the box of coins to TimeLine Auctions in London for an appraisal.
TimeLine Auctions’ numismatic experts recognized the importance of
the 1793 Chain cent with Vine and Bars edge design and arranged for
the coin to be sold at auction.
According to the auction lot description: “The chain reverse cent is
accepted as being the first national U.S. coinage, following the Act
of 14th January 1793 and was minted from four obverse and three
reverse dies in late February to early March 1793, until the mint ran
out of the copper blanks (when minting resumed a little later, the
design had changed to the wreath reverse type), with 36,103 of the
general type struck according to records and this die pairing believed
to have struck about 4,850 coins, included within the delivery of
11,178 coins (from die pairings 1-A and 1-B) made on 1st March 1793.
“It is estimated that perhaps only about 2.8% or so examples of the
general type survive today and this die pairing is recognised as being
scarcer than the AMERI. type (many, if not most, surviving are badly
worn or damaged) so perhaps around 150 or so extant.”
Timeline Auctions officials stated the buyer of the 1793 cent was
from the United States through an agent acting on their behalf.
Contact TimeLine Auctions by visiting its website