As with the Chain Cent before it, the Wreath Cent derives its common name from its reverse design, in this case bearing an exceptionally ornate wreath of leaves and berries, unlike any other wreath to appear on any other circulating one-cent piece. Clearly the design was created by Bob Birch, or by someone following his design, for its structure is strikingly similar to that of the Birch Cent pattern, particularly in the elongated strings of berries.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------**Indeed, the reverse of the Wreath Cent is completely different from the Chain Cent, but the obverse portrait of Liberty is completely different as well, remodeled based on Joseph Wright's Libertas Americana medal. Here we see a portion of the self-painted portrait of Joseph Wright's family, isolating his lovely wife Sarah. Through an introduction by his mother, Joseph was visiting with Benjamin Franklin in Paris during the time of the creation of the Libertas Americana medals. No doubt, the final engraving of the medal dies themselves was by the hand of French artist Augustin Dupre. However, the stark similarities among Joseph's portrait of Sarah, the portrait of Liberty gracing the Libertas Americana medal, and the portrait of Liberty seen on the 1793 Liberty Cap half cents attributed to Wright, are all undeniable and reflect on Wright as their creator.-------**Franklin was sufficiently impressed with Wright that through Franklin's connections with diplomat John Jay and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Robert Livingston, he arranged for Wright to be introduced to George Washington, and then later appointed by Washington as a draftsman and die sinker for the Mint. Among Wright's first creations at the mint was the 1792 Disme pattern seen here, which clearly draws off of the Libertas Americana design.-----------------------------**Comparing the Disme pattern with the Wreath Cent, we see the clear similarities of the designs. Liberty's profile and the styling of her flowing locks amply reflect Wright's artistic hand. The public still did not like the design, however, finding Miss Liberty to be "too unkempt" for polite society. The Wreath Cent was soon discontinued, to be replaced by Wright's Liberty Cap design.------------**The collection includes a truly superb specimen of the Wreath Cent from the Naftzger Collection. The absolute Pop Top at MS69, this is not only the single highest graded Wreath Cent, it is the single highest graded 18th century coin, period! The strike is truly fantastic and pinpoint sharp, clearly showing the individual strands of Miss Liberty's flowing hair and complete veins on all of the leaves -- including those above the date on the obverse. Of course, the surfaces are also phenomenal and near total perfection, so much so that even the fastidiously conservative EAC condition census recognizes this piece as the finest "all brown" Wreath Cent.
Denis Loring: There are nine die varieties of Wreath cents with Vine and Bars edge. NC-5 is unique, in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. NC-4 is a high R-7, with five known. Of the "numbered" varieties, only S-7 is rare. This "stopper" is unobtainable in high grade: only one in collectors' hands is above Fine. S-5, with LIBERTY and the date in large characters, is widely considered the most esthetically appealing of the Wreath cents.
Robert Leslie - Peter Mougey Collection - William H. Woodin Collection - Thomas L. Elder 9/1910:5 - Dr. George P. French Collection, sold privately - Howard Rounds Newcomb Collection - J.C. Morgenthau & Co. 2/1945:8 - Floyd T. Starr Collection - Stack's 6/1984:13 - R.E. “Ted” Naftzger, Jr. Collection - Eric Streiner - Jay Parrino - Bowers & Merena 8/1998:16 - Goldbergs 10/2000:1394 - Eugene H. Gardner Collection - Heritage 6/2014:30021, $329,000
Plated in S.S. Crosby's 1896 The United States Cents of 1793, the standard reference on the date until the publication of Sheldon's Early American Cents in 1949.
Sylvester S. Crosby - Dr. Thomas Hall - Virgil M. Brand 2/1941- B.G. Johnson (St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.),1941 - Oscar J. Pearl, 1942 - Abe Kosoff's (Numismatic Gallery) FPL of the Oscar J. Pearl Collection, 1944:7, $1,150 - Abe Kosoff's (Numismatic Gallery) sale of the Charles Williams Collection, 11/1950:10 - R.E. Naftzger, Jr. - New Netherlands 11/1973:330 - Fred Yee - World Wide Coin Co. 8/1975 - Steve Ivy Rare Coin Co. 8/1975 - Bowers & Ruddy Galleries 8/1975 - Dr. Herbert I. Ketterman - RARCOA “Auction '82” 8/1982:510 - James A. Hayes, the future Congressman from Louisiana - RARCOA - Anthony Terranova - Alex Acevedo - Anthony Terranova - R.E. Naftzger, Jr. 2/1992 - Eric Streiner - Jay Parirno (The Mint) - Marvin Goode - Heritage 8/1998:5852 - Haig Koshkarian - American Numismatic Rarities 3/2004:8, $241,500 - Bowers & Merena 2/2005:637, $253,000 - Oliver Jung Collection - Heritage 8/2014:5520, $528,750