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Show EZ your Early Copper

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Here's one of my favorite coins in my collection. Certainly not the prettiest but it can be argued the most significant of all US coins. It is Sheldon's S-1 AMERI variety Large Cent. Although poor in grade, this coin is rich in history. It is actually among the very first batch of coins produced by the fledgling US Mint in 1793. Imagine that George Washington still had 6 years to live at this time! R.W. Julian has proposed that Chain cents may have been ceremonially struck on Washington's birthday, Friday, February 22.


The S-1 variety was among the first 11,178 coins struck of the 36,103 mintage.


Diagnostics are easy (compliments of Conder101) even though AMERI has little visibility. A line drawn south from the "I" in UNITED on the reverse will bisect the joining of two links in the chain.


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Walter Breen:


Henry Voigt completed the dies sometime in February after vain attempts to engrave the devices. Though officialdom considered him the ablest man for the post here or overseas, the mechanical skills appropriate to a coiner are very different from those of a diesinker. Accordingly, Voigt's designs had to be as simple as possible. We know that Voigt made the dies because of a line in Elias Boudinot's Report to Congress, February 9, 1795:


It was also a considerable time before an engraver could be engaged, during which, the chief coiner was obliged to make the dies himself, and yet the dies are subject to frequent failure by breaking.4


The endless chain device deliberately echoes the reverses of Continental notes of February 1776, the 1776 Continental Currency tin alloy penny, and the 1787 Fugio coppers. This was an unfortunate choice as, to many (then as now), a chain connoted not strength, but slavery.


Voigt imparted the chain to both working dies by repeated hand punching of a single link element. This link punch, like the letter and numeral punches, bust have been by the Germantown type founder Jacob Bay, who made punches for all of the denominations until his death in one of the yellow fever epidemics.


The cents' plain raised "lip" border, without beading or dentilation, proved unsatisfactory. Evidently it did not strike up well (especially if the blanks were even slightly narrow) and the coins wore down too fast. Many survivors show little or no trace of the raised border though the planchets were apparently given upset rims to accommodate it. This may explain why, less than a month later, the new Wreath design showed obverse and reverse border beading within more noticeably raised rims.


Coinage halted for lack of blanks, though more copper was on hand to be melted, rolled, and cut. Over 40,000 additional blanks were ready by March 31, though by this time the Wreath type dies were in production.17


Quantitative rarity ratings indicate that slightly more than 1,000 Chain Cents survive of all kinds, or about 2.8% of the original mintage.



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What time frame do you consider early?


Here are my earliest coppers...


1787 New Jersey, There is actually enough detail still here for me to determine that it is a Maris 43d



1794 Cent



1802 Cent


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I owned an S-1 Chain cent many years ago. It was shaper than EZ's coin on the reverse, but had been re-engraved on the obverse. The one I now own is an S-4, the periods variety. It's fairly nice, but not outstanding. At the time this was the best that I could afford and was happy to buy it.


Speculation now says that Joseph Wright may have created the Ms. Liberty for this Chain cent variety. She certainly looks for civilized than the other two ladies who appeared on the other three collectable Chain cent vareities.




Here is my Fugo cent, which is sort of "the first Chain cent." It's the more common of the two Club Rays varieties. This coin actually has a more interesting history than the Chain cents, but since it was made outside of the U.S. mint by a private contractor, it's not as popular.




And here a Mint State Fugio I bought for a client's want list a few years ago. This piece came from the Bank of New York hoard.



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Here is one of the few Early Coppers that I own. 1793/2 Wash. Ship Halfpenny























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In the first half of the 19th century, it was round and brown it circulated. This piece could have also been a pocket piece. In that case the owner could have worn it down to nothing and the fact that it was not much more than a blank planchet would have made little difference.

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What sells me on this coin is that the rims are fully intact, the planchet is smooth with only minor porosity and, of course, it is the S-1 variety.

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The following is quite an interesting coin, Boiler. And I rather well fancy it. (thumbs u



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