1793 Chain 1C AMERICA AU53. S-3, B-4, Low R.3. EAC 40. Surfaces: The obverse surface has countless minute defects that appear to be almost entirely planchet flaws, representing an improperly refined strip of copper, a common problem in the first year of Mint operations. Sheet copper was not yet available from England, so available copper was scrap copper from local sources that Henry Voigt acquired. In his Encyclopedia of Large Cents, Breen discussed the problems with this locally available copper: "Scrap copper varied greatly in homogeneity, density, malleability, and hardness. This is partly from different trace elements and partly from the way the individual lumps had been treated in manufacture. This was a most unsatisfactory expedient; the coiner's department learned quickly that different ingots cast from it varied greatly , with far too many gas bubbles. Strip rolled from these ingots came out with too many cavities and laminations. Many surviving Chain cents accordingly show such flaws." The sophisticated collector will appreciate the planchet flaws as part of this coin's history and charm. A few tiny rim bumps are visible, and these appear to be the only post-strike imperfections. In direct opposition to the obverse, the reverse surface is nearly flawless. Only a few minute defects, rim flaws, and abrasions can be seen. Both sides have lovely medium brown color with traces of darker steel color on the high points. Considerable original mint frost remains, with splashes of lighter tan on the reverse, faded from original mint red. This example is a later die state. The obverse has prominent clash marks around and below the bust, and the reverse is flowlined with field roughening below UNITED STATES. The latest known die state of this variety, called Die State III in Breen's classification, displays heavy clash marks along Liberty's lips, chin, neck, and bust line. Breen suggested that these obverse clash marks, as seen somewhat on this example, were responsible for the "Liberty in chains epithet" sometimes given to the Chain cents. The Chain design was intended to show strength or unity of our new nation. Instead, the device was interpreted by many as representing slavery. Most of the mintage was lost or destroyed, so survivors are of various grades, usually lower quality. Porous or corroded pieces are frequently encountered. There is no question among specialists that Sheldon-3 is the most common Chain cent. Current rarity ratings for the Chain cent varieties suggest that the total surviving population of all varieties is 900 to 1,000 coins, with 400 to 500 examples of the S-3 and about 500 to 600 of all other varieties combined. Working under the assumption that the current rarity ratings are reasonably accurate, we can surmise that the original mintage occurred in about the same proportion. Approximately 18,000 examples of this die marriage were coined, with another 18,000 of the other three Sheldon numbers.
David Hall: The incredible SP67 is from the fabulous large cent collection of the late Ted Naftzger, the greatest large cent collection of all-time by far. This amazing coin has semi-prooflike surfaces and is virtually perfect. Large cent affcianados refer to this amazing specimen as "THE coin."
S-2. W.S. Lincoln & Son, 8/1891 - Benjamin H. Collins, 1/1919 - Dr. Henry W. Beckwith - S.H. Chapman 4/1923:1, $430 - Henry Chapman - Dr. George P. French - B. Max Mehl's 1929 FPL, lot 1, $850 - J.C. Morgenthau 4/1933:2 - B. Max Mehl's personal collection - T. James Clarke - John H. Payne, 1953 - Dr. William H. Sheldon, 4/1972 - R.E. "Ted" Naftzger" Jr., 12/1986 - Herman Halpern - Stack's 3/1988:2 - Anthony Terranova - Andrew Lustig - Don Kagin, 11/1992 - Gilbert Steinber - Superior 9/1996:1560 - Anthony Terranova and Chris Victor-McCawley - Walter Husak - Superior 2/2001:2090 - American Numismatic Rarities 1/2005:69, $431,250
S-3. Joseph Zanoni Collection - sold privately by Edward Cogan in 1867 - Thomas Cleneay Collection - S.H. & H. Chapman 12/1890 - 1794 - J.F. Anger - Arba Borden - Allison W. Jackman Collection - Henry Chapman 6/1918:685 - Hillyer Ryder Collection - purchased by Wayte Raymond, 5/1945 with the rest of the Ryder Collection - sold privately to Dr. William H. Sheldon in 1947 - purchased along with other coins from the Sheldon Collection, 4/1972 - R.E. "Ted" Naftzger Collection - sold to Stanley Kesselman 3/1980 as partial payment for the Garrett S-3 - David Akers “Auction ‘80” 8/1980:554 - Stack’s/Bowers 8/2012:11180, $747,500
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