Historic Starred-Reverse 1794 Cent Featured in our March 2021 Las Vegas Auction

The Sheldon-48, Starred Reverse 1794 Liberty Cap cent is one
of the most popular, eagerly sought, and also enigmatic varieties in the early
large cent series. The reason for including 94 stars on the reverse of this
variety has been lost to history although, as with so many other aspects of
U.S. numismatics, theories abound. Two of the more interesting are attributed
to Dr. Edward Maris and R. Coulton Davis, both of which are related in Walter
Breen’s large cent encyclopedia:

"Dr. Maris had conjectured that the number of stars was
meant to allude to the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Robert
Coulton Davis connected it with the Mint Cabinet’s 1792 experimental copper
coin today called Joseph Wright’s pattern quarter dollar (Judd 12, Pollock 14, Encyclopedia
1365), which has 87 stars in the reverse border."

Regardless of the intent of the stars and when and by whom
the variety was discovered, the appeal of Sheldon-48 has remained strong
throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries. Its scarcity has also stood
the test of time, for today only 60 or so examples are believed extant, the
actual total perhaps as low as 50 to 55 coins.

We are thrilled to feature a superior example from these
dies in our March 2021 Las Vegas Auction. It is faintly glossy and overall
pleasing, despite varying levels of porosity. Most importantly, each of the
eponymous stars remains distinct at the reverse denticles, a quality that is
only shared by a small handful from these dies. Well struck and bold, the
obverse is well centered while the reverse is slightly drawn towards 2 o’clock.
Among the finest known, it is tied at CC#9 with the Norweb specimen on the 2006
Noyes census.

This is an historic example with provenance stretching back
more than a century to Geoffrey Charlton Adams’ sale of the Temple Collection
in April 1905. Even then, it was recognized as a magnificent rarity and was
cataloged as "the finest specimen ever offered at auction. Only one better
known." In the following decades, it passed through the hands of several
famed numismatists including Henry C. Miller, George French, T. James Clarke,
R.E. Naftzger, John W. Adams, and many others. We last had the pleasure of
offering this piece in our February 1982 sale of the Robison Collection, where
we called it a "splendid Condition Census example." Nearly 40 years
later, it remains one of the most desirable survivors from these dies and we
are thrilled to present it to a new generation of collectors.

This 1794 Starred Reverse cent will be featured in our March
2021 Las Vegas Auction, along with many important collections including selections
from the D. Brent Pogue Collection, the Collection of Silas Stanley Roberts,
the Washington Rainbows Collection, the Iron Eagle Collection, and many others.
The sale will be available for viewing and bidding on our website and printed catalogs will also be available for purchase.
If you would like to consign to an upcoming sale or have questions about the
consignment process, please contact us today at or

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