US Coins

Chain cent once part of 'finest U.S. coin collection' on block

This 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, Periods cent sold for $2,350,000 in Heritage’s Jan. 7 Platinum Night Auction at the FUN show. The coin is graded Mint State 66 brown by PCGS.

Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions

The auctions associated with the Florida United Numismatists show in Orlando, Jan. 8 to 11, are massive events for the rare coin market. 

Heritage’s Platinum Night auction is set for Jan. 7, and features many singular rarities, although none with the broad, mainstream recognition of last year’s headliners: a 1787 Brasher doubloon that sold for nearly $4.6 million and a 1913 Liberty Head 5-cent piece that realized $3,290,000. 

The firm’s U.S. coin FUN auctions take place over nine sessions, including two online sessions on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12. Additional sessions for paper money are also scheduled, with world coins offered the same week in conjunction with the New York International Numismatic Convention in New York City. 

Coin World is profiling a few of the Platinum Night FUN auction highlights. 

A Chain cent’s rich ownership history

A 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain, Periods cent, graded MS-66 brown by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker, is the second-finest PCGS-certified example of this one-year type, and Heritage’s offering represents its first public auction appearance since 1890. It comes from a total mintage of just 36,301 pieces, delivered in March 1793. 

PCGS and NGC’s population reports show 28 Mint State Chain cents of all types.  

Heritage writes that the provenance of the cent in the auction is “among the finest of any United States large cent.” 

The firm adds, “In January 1879, this coin was purchased at public auction for $76 by Lorin Parmelee, the Boston bean baker who assembled what is generally considered the finest U.S. coin collection of all time. When the Parmelee Collection was sold in 1890, it would be the last appearance of this coin at public auction.” 

It later was included in the collections of Philadelphia coin dealer Harlan P. Smith, and later Chicago brewer Virgil Brand. “When Brand’s estate was parceled out before World War II, it passed through the hands of two coin dealers before being sold to New York City numismatist Oscar J. Pearl, whose collection of 1793 large cents was called ‘undoubtedly one of the finest in existence.’ T. James Clarke purchased this coin from the fixed price list of Pearl’s collection in 1944 for $850 and owned it for a decade before selling it to R.E. ‘Ted’ Naftzger, the most famous large cent collector of all time. Naftzger held this coin for nearly 40 years, until he sold his collection in 1992 and this coin sold to the present owner and has remained off the market ever since.”

At Heritage’s 2012 FUN auction, the firm sold a different 1793 Flowing Hair, Chain cent of the same Sheldon 4 variety in William Sheldon’s catalog of early large cents, graded PCGS MS-65 brown and CAC approved, for $1,380,000. 

Read about more highlights of the Heritage FUN auctions:

1876-CC Seated Liberty dime among Heritage FUN auction highlights

Finest certified 18th century gold half eagle among Heritage lots at FUN auctions

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