CopperCollector's Blog

04 Mar 2021

Die Varieties and Variation of the Large Cent

Coins | CopperCollector

Before I start I would like to give a define Varieties vs. Variation. Varieties almost always come from the hand engraved dyes you know like a engraver makes one die and then the next one the letter U is slightly bent. A Variation would be if the engraver didn't quite like how the coin was coming out so he made a change. Another reason could be that the mint had gotten a new engraver mid way through coinage. Both ways have affected coinage like the 1794 large cents I have two pictures of the varieties, the designer must have never been happy with his design.
So with that knowledge I will first talk about the Varieties. Varieties are a more advanced way to collect large cents. With over 1200 different known it makes sense that nobody has ever completed a collection. The way that the large cent varieties are ranked on rarity is like this:
1-2 the most common varieties of the most common years3-4 more common years but rarer varieties5-7 scarcer years and scarcer varieties8-10 very scare years and very scarce varieties10-12 rare years and rare varieties13-14 very rare years and very rare varieties15 only one to three specimens known to exist
A very useful guide the large cent varieties is the book I have been reading United States Coins 1793-1857. So now that you know how the rarity scale works we will jump in to how to identify your varieties. Many large cent Numismatists have to use a magnifying glass to see all the little items that make up the varieties. Most commonly used for reference on the obverse is the dates position to the bust, on later issues the angle of the coronet to the 5th & 6th stars, the stars are also used in finding the position of letters on the reverse. Which brings us to the reverse to further your surety of the type the reverse is used. Things like how many berries, what direction the leaf is pointing, and as I said earlier the letters position to the stars, finally the lines and dots in between the word CENTS. Tools that large cent die varieties hunters use are: a piece of paper but I have heard of people using a metal wire, a magnifying glass, and most important a light source. That is a quick overview of the Varieties of the large cent.

Now I will talk about the as I call them Variations of the Large Cent. As is said in the first paragraph the variations were caused by the engraver not being satisfied with the coin or the mint hiring a new engraver. Most of these variations can be found in the red book. 1793 the sprig of leaves changes 2-3 times creating the rare strawberry leaf large cent. 1794 had an amazing amount of varieties the red book lists 13 different types. To name a few there is the Beaded Border, my personal favorite the Jefferson Head, and the head of 1793, 1794, and 1795. Fast forwarding to 1807 there is the "comet variety" which there appears to be a comet streaking behind lady liberty's head. Other variations exist like the unicorn where lady liberty has got a spike coming of of her head, the snail or dolphin large cent where liberty has a bump above her head. All these coins could be a fun collection it would be pricy if you included all of the variations of the 1794 cent but you don't have to do that. Here are the basic facts I hoped you learned the rarity scale the varieties are different dies engraved and variation were are designers fixing the coin up mid way through the coinage.


Long Beard

Level 5

Great subject. If you have not read the article yet, in the November 2020 issue viewable under the digital editions, pertaining to the varieties and variations of the half-cent. Which applies to the large cent as well. Highly informative for collecting either denomination.


Level 4

Yep I really enjoyed that magazine about the half cents.


Level 7

Blog was very well done prepared and written. I understood everthing. You have an art to make complicated things easy to understand for all. Well done I appreciate that.

I. R. Bama

Level 5

Thanks for a very informative blog.... I have a few large cents but never really pursued a collection, I really should rethink that....


Level 6

Thanks for the informative blog


Level 6

Nice. Just like the VAM designations of my Peace Dollars and Morgan's. I find this stuff very interesting. A little deeper look into the series as you say. Thanks and great photos to show it all.


Level 6

Great blog! Love your photos!


Level 5

Love the photo definitions. Great blog.

It's Mokie

Level 6

Good Job illuminating an interesting aspect of the coin production process at the early mint.


Level 5

Very interesting. Thanks for a great post.


Level 5

Sweet info, very interesting and helpful blog, later!


Level 5

Nice blog!


Level 5

Very good stuff here! As the "Local Cent Guy", I give this a five-star and two thumbs up! I'll catch you on the next one (:


Level 4


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