US Coins

Damaged ‘Aristocrat’ brings $75,000 in sale

The Philadelphia Mint struck three distinct cent design types in 1793: the Flowing Hair, Chain cent; the Flowing Hair, Wreath cent; and the Liberty Cap cent. The Sheldon 15 Liberty Cap cent die marriage is the second rarest collectible variety of early date cents listed by Sheldon, who named it “The Aristocrat.” 

Varieties that Sheldon thought were too rare to be collectible and new varieties discovered since the final edition of Penny Whimsy in 1976 are assigned NC numbers indicating they are “noncollectible.”

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Jim Neiswinter’s example of “The Aristocrat” is graded Good Details, Damaged, by Professional Coin Grading Service and was offered in Ira and Larry Goldberg’s Jan. 27 Pre-Long Beach auction. The cataloger for Neiswinter’s collection of 1793 to 1839 large cents observed generally pleasant surfaces that are “glossy light chocolate brown delicately woodgrained with lighter brown.”

The problems include “a few marks including two dull digs on the cap, another under the B in LIBERTY, a planchet delamination from the eye to the rim at the right, and a pair of light rim bruises on the lower half of the reverse.” 

Still, with only 13 examples known — two of which are in museum collections — it is a coveted example in any grade and it exceeded its estimate of $60,000 and up when it brought $75,000.

It also is the discovery coin for the variety, with a rich provenance that traces back to The Early Coins of America author Sylvester Crosby who found it in the late 1860s and loaned it to J.N.T. Levick to include in a plate of 1793 cents published in the April 1869 issue of the American Journal of Numismatics

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