1793 FLOWING HAIR WREATH CENT

The first copper coins of the new United States Mint struck for general circulation were the 1793 Chain Cents. These historic coins also had the unpleasant distinction of being the first American design subjected to intense public ridicule. Abuse of some kind greeted nearly all new U.S. coin designs over the next 200 years, but […]
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1793-96 LIBERTY CAP LARGE CENT

The Liberty Cap large cents of 1793-1796 are the classics of early American copper coinage. They represent the third step in the infant Philadelphia Mint’s quest for a permanent cent design, succeeding the Chain and Wreath cents that began the new decimal coinage early in 1793. This third design was created by Joseph Wright, a […]
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1796-1807 DRAPED BUST LARGE CENT

At no other time in American history was the one cent coin so important as it was in the closing years of the 18th century. Although cumbersome, the large copper coins were useful for very small transactions, unlike the wide variety of foreign coins then in circulation. Yet the Mint’s ability to create dies and […]
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1808-14 CLASSIC HEAD LARGE CENT

Mention the word “classic” and people think of works that are beautiful and enduring-Greek and Roman statues, Shakespearean sonnets, even luxury cars from a bygone era. The so-called “Classic Head” large cent produced by the United States Mint in the early 1800s is old enough to be thought of in that context, but it’s not […]
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1816-39 CORONET HEAD LARGE CENT

As Napoleon’s troops prepared for their final battle against the armies of England and her continental allies, England’s second war against the United States seemed far removed from her vital national interests. Naval defeats on the Great Lakes made it impossible to successfully prosecute the war, and Jackson’s defense of New Orleans had dampened the […]
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1839-57 BRAIDED HAIR LARGE CENT

By 1839, few people inside or outside the U.S. Mint were satisfied with the large cent design, least of all its creator, Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht. But this was nothing new; from its very beginnings, the large cent had suffered abuse and ridicule. First of all, there were the designs. Though loved by present-day collectors, […]
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1856-58 FLYING EAGLE CENT

By the mid-1850s it was apparent to Mint officials that the large copper cents struck since 1793 were too cumbersome and unpopular, as well as increasingly uneconomical to make. The idea of fiduciary coinage, based on the trustworthiness of the issuing authority, not on the coin’s intrinsic value, was beginning to catch on as well. […]
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1859-64 INDIAN HEAD CENT COPPER-NICKEL

There was nothing penny-ante about the one cent piece in the mid-19th century: Its buying power was substantial. The famed King Ranch in Texas, for example, came into being in 1853 when steamboat captain Richard King bought 15,500 acres for just $300, less than two cents per acre. For working-class Americans, 10 cents an hour […]
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