1793 1C Flowing Hair Wreath, Vine & Bars, Sheldon-8, PCGS MS65 CAC. The 1793 “wreath” cent as it has become affectionately known represents the second major design type in the Large Cent series and is a major Red Book variety. Both the obverse and reverse of the present specimen are as fully struck as one could ever realistically expect for the Type. We marvel at the intricate, razor sharp definition on Liberty’s hair tresses (obverse) and the leaves, sprigs and trefoils within the wreath (reverse). The level of surface preservation for this coin is just as impressive as the striking quality. We take the liberty of borrowing this phrase “…to study the surfaces is to study a portrait of numismatic perfection in a product of the early United States Mint.” To make matters even better, this coin still resides in an old green holder, suggesting that perhaps if reholdered a higher grade could be obtained(?).
According to David Bowers, “…the fame of the 1793 Wreath cent is long lasting. and it is a design type that was firmly entrenched in numismatics during the early years of great popularity of the hobby, the late 1850’s. By 1860, when auction sales were continuing apace and the hobby was going forward at high speed, the appearance of a 1793 cent was a very important event. Later in the decade, in 1869, the American Journal of Numismatics, established in 1866, featured a full photographic plate of 1793 cents of different varieties, a great accomplishment at the time, the echoes of which still last in the tradition of cent collecting. As years went on, the 1793 maintained its fame and was the subject of a number of articles and special studies, culminating with it’s inclusion in William Sheldon’s Early American Cents written in 1949.”
This particular specimen was last seen 16 years ago in the Santa Clara Heritage Signature sale, lot 5022, where it realized $63,250. Heritage described the lot as follows: “…S-8, R.3. On August 6, 1998, we auctioned an NGC-certified, MS66 Brown representative of this first-year Cent as lot 5852 in our Portland ANA Signature Sale. That coin, an example of the S-9 die marriage, realized $138,000.* There is little negative that we can say about the present specimen. There are a few striking anomalies that are worthy of mention. First, the obverse reveals a few faint clashmarks from the reverse wreath in the field below Liberty’s chin. Secondly, the diagnostic die break is seen on the reverse from the first T in STATES through the center of the coin. Finally, there are a few spindly die breaks on the obverse over Liberty’s cheek, but these features are barely perceptible to the naked eye. The surfaces are glossy in texture with medium brown color that yields to aesthetically pleasing blue and lilac undertones as the coin rotates beneath a light. Both sides exhibit needle sharp striking definition with full beaded borders and devices that rise boldly above the smooth fields. This Gem is purportedly two points finer than the first coin on Noyes’s Condition Census for this variety. We note, however, that Noyes’s Condition Census is based on EAC grading standards, and it is impossible for us to determine where this particular coin ranks based on the assigned PCGS grade. We must, therefore, leave this determination to specialists.”
*Incidentally, the aforementioned NGC MS66 that sold for $138,000 in 1998 was recently offered for sale, again by Heritage during the ANA Sale of August 2014, and realized $528,750, nearly four times the amount in 16 years. This demonstrates the intense collector interest that revolves around such specimens and how attentive serious money becomes when the opportunity to acquire Gem specimens comes around.
The Numismedia CAC published price is $259,000.