thatcoinguy's Blog

13 Jul 2022

Large Cents: Building A 19th And 20th Century Type Set

Collecting Tips | thatcoinguy

Alright, we're back again with building your type set. For those who haven't read part one (if you didn't click on the #buildingatypeset to read from the beginning of the series), I have set a budget of $200 for the 20th century coins, and $300 for the 19th century coins. Here's part two, on large cents!

This paragraph was also in part one, and is my thoughts on buying copper coins in general. If you want to read it again, go ahead! But if you don't skip this paragraph to read the new stuff.For copper coins in general, especially when only buying a type piece, my biggest advice is eye appeal, eye appeal, eye appeal. There are good MS-65 Morgan dollars, and bad MS-65 Morgan dollars. This difference is way more obvious on old copper coins. Some are corroded, have large amounts of copper spots, and have various amounts of brown than other coins. Your job as a collector is to find the most pleasing coin for the grade(s) that you can afford. I would much rather own a VF-20 large cent that has pleasing chocolate browns and average surface marks for the grade than own an EF-40 coin that has corroded, and is a nasty shade of black. Just make sure you are buying the coin, not the numerical grade.

The first large cent minted in the 19th century is the Draped Bust large cent, struck from 1796-1807. This is the hardest early copper to get in decent grades, because it does get really pricey. G-4 is about the best you can get on a $300 budget, with the cheapest G-4 being the 1807 Large Fraction for around $140 for a nice piece. If you have noticed the prices I have aren't the exact prices from the PCGS Price Guide, this is because I'm listing the price of a nice one, rather than your standard run-of-the-mill coin for the grade.

Next up is the Classic Head Large Cent, minted from 1808-1814, which you can get a slightly higher grade example for your type set on a budget. I would try for a VG-8, with 1810, 1812, and 1814 being the dates to keep your eye out for at coin shows. These coins are struck with less than standard quality planchets, so don't buy the first one you see, and be willing to pay a little more for a nicer example.

The third type of large cent minted in the 19th century is the Coronet Head, made from 1816-1839. Collecting these is made easier by hoards that have been discovered with dates such as 1817 and 1820, which make this series a little easier to locate in top grades for common coins than other similar series. I would go for an AU-55 BN if you can find one for under the budget of $300, but if you can't, a nice AU-53+ BN for $285 is certainly not a bad choice for your album.

The last large cents the US minted were the Braided Hair cents, struck from 1839-1857. This series has been extensively researched for die varieties, so if you are a variety nut, this might be your chance to snag one to put in your type set! For those who just want a nice piece for the collection, I would take this chance to add a larger, more red cent to the set and go with an MS-61 RB 1851 coin for $300. If red isn't really your thing, you should choose an 1851 in MS-62 BN at $280 for an attractive piece.

Keep collecting,



Long Beard

Level 5

I been slowly and methodically assembling a 19th century type set consisting of dates from 1812 to 1814. For the obvious reason, and rather tough in grades of EF or higher.


Level 4

Good blog! I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

AC coin$

Level 6

Excellent essay on the drapped bust cent and much more. Nice pic.


Level 4

I do like Old Copper. Eye appealing specimens can be costly, so a budget is recommended. Nice read.


Level 6

Good deal that you have set a budget. Can't get into to much trouble that way... haha Beautiful coin! ; )


Level 4

Good information as it relates to 19th century large cents. Budgeting is important, as well as pricing coins out. Using PCGS, NGC, Grey Sheet, and The Red Book as comparable price guides, will not only help you stay within budget, but also help you find the best deal of the coin that appeals to you most. Especially, when you are talking about a VF20 that has better eye appeal than a MS63.


Level 7

All good points. You have to stay in your budget. Before you know it it will break the bank!! Just be careful. Thanks very much people will use your pointers!! Thanks again.


Level 6

Nicely done. Lots of good info here. I especially like that you have set a budget for yourself. Stick to the plan. I would like to see a bibliography from you. Just me. Good job. Thanks.

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