US Coins

Goldbergs to offer rare 1796 Liberty Cap cent variety

PCGS EF-40 example of the S-89 variety of 1796 Liberty Cap cent will be offered at public auction Jan. 25.

mages courtesy of Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles.

A recently discovered example of the Sheldon 89 variety of 1796 Liberty Cap cent to be offered at auction in January is the finest example to be found in more than 50 years, according to large cent specialist Bob Grellman.

The S-89 variety, as cataloged in William H. Sheldon’s Penny Whimsy, was recently graded Extremely Fine 40 by Professional Coin Grading Service.

The new discovery is to be offered Jan. 25 in Los Angeles by Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles Inc. in the firm's auction preceding the Long Beach Coin, Currency, Stamp & Sports Collectible Show.

According to Larry Goldberg, the newly discovered S-89 1796 cent was purchased over the counter at an “old-time coin shop” in the Southwest. The seller pulled the coin out of one of the front pockets of his pants with other 18th century coins that were passed down within the seller’s family for several generations, according to Larry Goldberg.

Goldberg said the new discovery carries an estimate of $15,000, Goldberg said.

Condition rarity

While the S-89 cent is a common variety, it is extremely rare in high grade, according to Grellman.

“The finest known grades only Very Fine 30 by Early American Copper standards, giving the variety the lowest condition census for the entire series.,” Grellman said Oct. 28 by email.  “Even the rare varieties have examples that have survived in significantly higher grades. 

“The Gene Gardner collection just offered by Heritage (Oct. 27) illustrates this phenomenon. He had superior examples of 9 of the 11 die varieties of 1796 Liberty Cap cents, but no S-89. He was never able to find a nice one to fit into his outstanding collection — because a high-grade example has yet to be discovered.”

For more information on the new discovery and the Jan. 25 sale, visit the firm’s website or telephone it at 310-­551­2646. 

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