US Coins

Moderate porosity leads to Basal State grade

A barely identifiable 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent graded Basal State 1+ brought $447 at a Jan. 25 auction.

Images courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers

Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers, with McCawley-Grellman, The Copper Specialists, can be counted on to deliver hundreds of interesting Early American half cents and large cents in each of their auctions, which show the full range of quality within these respective collecting areas.

Although top coins like a 1793 Liberty Cap, Left half cent from the Missouri Cabinet graded Mint State 63 brown that sold for $114,563 capture headlines, their Jan. 25 to 27 pre-Long Beach auction offered other fascinating pieces. 

Here is one of three coins Coin World is profiling in its latest Market Analysis:

The coin

1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent, Basal State 1+

The price


The story

The grading term “Basal State” is the lowest level of preservation described in Penny Whimsy by William H. Sheldon. The author introduced the term in a chapter called “Toward a Science of Cent Values” where he proposed a valuing system for pricing large cents that directly related condition and rarity. His 1 to 70 scale is used in coin grading today, where 1 is the lowest and 70 is essentially perfect.

This 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent is graded by the auctioneer as Basal State 1+, and the firm notes that by way of details alone, it is several grading points sharper, but is covered with moderate porosity. “The roughness weakens and distorts the designs but the date remains readable as does much of the legend on the reverse,” the description adds. 

While the date is not readily visible, it is identifiable as a Vine and Bars Edge variety and is classified as the Sheldon 10 die variety in Sheldon’s book. 

The well-worn cent brought $447 against an estimate of $300 and up.

Keep reading this Market Analysis:

Re-engraved 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent went unsold at pre-Long Beach auction

'Smith Counterfeit' 1793 Flowing Hair, Wreath cent a curious oddity

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