US Coins

Missouri Cabinets Misplaced 1793 half cent

An MS-63 brown 1793 Liberty Cap, Left half cent brought $114,536 at the Ira & Larry Goldberg Jan. 25 pre-Long Beach auction.

Image courtesy Ira & Larry Goldberg auctions.

A misplaced 1793 Liberty Cap, Left half cent graded Mint State 63 brown by Professional Coin Grading Service brought $114,563 at a Jan. 25 auction.

The half cent was from the famed Missouri Cabinet, which Ira & Larry Goldberg Auctioneers with Bob Grellman & Chris McCawley, The Copper Specialists, sold in January 2014. However, this single coin was misplaced and subsequently “rediscovered” after the 2014 sale

Price exceeds estimate

The piece exceeded its estimate of $80,000 and up. Its “Choice lustrous medium brown and chocolate” surfaces were described as “nearly flawless and the eye appeal is outstanding for the grade.” 

The firms added, “The only imperfections are a microscopic planchet chip on the rim at the top of the reverse and an even smaller chip just inside the border beads over the left side of the O in OF, both as struck, plus a hint of reddish carbon at the right side of the first A in AMERICA.” 

Like many pieces in the Missouri Cabinet, it had a long ownership history, which included passing through the hands of Henry Chapman, Hillyer Cooper Ryder, Wayte Raymond, and other collectors. 

It was purchased on April 20, 1976, for the Missouri Cabinet from dealer Joe Flynn & Son Rare Coins Inc., and the Jan. 25 auction was the first public offering of this coin for a generation.

Cataloged as an example of the Cohen 2 variety, the variety is not itself rare. However, it is the finest of only two examples of this variety graded Mint State and is in demand from collectors as a one-year type coin. 

The Missouri Cabinet of U.S. Half Cents was assembled by R. Tettenhorst, the pseudonym for the St. Louis collector who assembled the collection over a period of more than four decades. The collection was assembled in a collaboration between Tettenhorst and the Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. 

The 2014 sale of 230 half cents brought total prices realized of $18,271,631 with all lots sold. With the addition of this 1793 half cent, the total for the Missouri Cabinet is raised to $18,386,194.

A much lower-grade example of the C-2 variety in the Goldberg sale, graded About Good 3 by the firm, brought $999 against an estimate of $600 and up.  

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