Choice Mint State 1795 Cent Featured in our November 2019 Baltimore Auction.

​The 1795 Sheldon-78 variety is one of the most available cent varieties of the year. However it is a decidedly scarce marriage in Mint State. Featured in our November 2019 Baltimore Auction is a delightful MS-63 (PCGS) example that also offers a pedigree traceable back more than a century.

Varying chocolate brown hues dominate this lovely Choice example, accented by flashes of orange in the protected areas. A subtle blending of darker brown is marbled across the upper left reverse. The strike is pleasantly bold, slightly drawn towards 8 o’clock on the obverse and nicely centered on the opposite side. Two small toning spots in the right obverse field before Liberty’s chin are convenient markers to trace this piece through future cabinets.

We are able to trace this example back over 113 years to the Chapman brothers’ sale of the Harlan P. Smith Collection in May 1906. It eventually passed into the famous collections of Harold Bareford and Herman Halpern (whose collection we sold in March 1988). In this sense, the current example is an old friend of our firm. It is surely one of the finest know from these dies, ranked #12 in the census for the variety in William C. Noyes’ United States Large Cents: 1795-1797, Volume 2 (2007), with EAC grades listed therein as MS-60 and AU-55. 

Sheldon-78 is one of six plain edge varieties of the 1795 Liberty cap, and it represents the only use of the obverse and reverse dies. The obverse is most readily identifiable by looking at the digit 5 in the date. The upper stroke of that digit is curved, barely touches the bottom of the bust, and is fully visible. The reverse is attributed to John Smith Gardner and was likely prepared in December 1795. It is Gardner’s copy of an earlier reverse used to strike 1795 cents, although Gardner’s work is easily distinguished because the denomination ONE CENT is centered within the wreath. The division of berries in the wreath — four left and only three right — is also diagnostic of this reverse. The present piece is a handsome and well preserved example of this variety and is sure to attract considerable attention from specialists.

This MS-63 (PCGS) example will be a highlight of our Official Auction of the 2019 Whitman Coin & Collectibles Winter Expo and we expect strong interest from collectors of early American coppers. The sale will be available for viewing and bidding on our website, or you may contact our offices to secure a printed catalog. To speak with a numismatic representative, please call 800-458-4646 or email Also, download our mobile app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.

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