1795 Liberty Cap, Reeded Edge cent returns to the numismatic market after 51 years

Coin, one of 10 known, last offered in dealer's 1964 fixed-price list
By , Coin World
Published : 08/25/15
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The L.R. Davis McKinney Jr. example of the 1795 Liberty Cap, Reeded Edge cent hasn’t been part of the numismatic mainstream since the late Texas collector/dealer offered the coin in a fixed-price list in 1964.

The McKinney coin, one of 10 examples confirmed of the Sheldon 79 Reeded Edge variety, is scheduled to cross the auction block Jan. 7 during Heritage Auctions’ sale held in conjunction with the Florida United Numismatists Convention in Tampa.

The identity of the consignor has not been disclosed by Heritage.

The coin is graded and encapsulated by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. as Very Good Details, Corrosion. Approximately half of the original edge reeding remains on the McKinney S-79 coin.

The purpose of the edge reeding is unknown, but some large cent experts have speculated the reeded edge was executed as an anti-counterfeiting device. Other large cents of the era also bore edge devices of several different types.

Walter Breen, in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, suggests the reeding was “an experiment which proved to be a needless frill, adding to the cost of manufacture without compensatory advantage.”

Mark Borckardt, Heritage senior cataloger, senior numismatist and consignment director, cataloged the McKinney coin for the Jan. 7, 2016, Heritage auction. He believes that “the Reeded Edge cent was a transitional issue between the Lettered Edge (thick planchet) coins and the Plain Edge (thin planchet) cents.


The common edge device for many early large cents was the incuse inscription ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR.

According to www.largecents.net, “The genesis of the 1795 Reeded Edge Cent can be found in President George Washington’s January 26, 1796 proclamation to reduce the weight of the Cent from 208 grains to 168 grains. The proclamation was to be retroactive to December 27, 1795, on which date President Washington had already issued verbal orders to Mint Director Elias Boudinot to make this weight change.

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