S-14 Low R.5, EAC 20. While the Chain and Wreath Cents boast the cachet of single year type status, it is the Liberty Cap design that is the scarcest for the year. Walter Breen estimated that only 250 Liberty Cap cents dated 1793 exist in all grades and of all varieties. The Sheldon-14 is an unmistakable, “naked eye” variety which can be identified at arms length by the spectacular, rim-to-rim die crack down the middle of the obverse. This is the famous Bisecting Crack variety, with a constant and readily visible (usually) vertical die crack on the obverse, from the E of LIBERTY to the 3 in the date. The crack passes through Liberty's earlobe, and almost perfectly divides the obverse in half, slightly favoring the right side. The elusiveness of this particular variety can, in large measure, be attributed to the obvious broken die, from which relatively few coins could have been struck before it finally had to be replaced. With a surviving population of about 70 pieces, the Bisecting Crack is the second most common variety of the six 1793 Liberty Caps, although it is substantially rarer than Sheldon-13. The rarity of this variety has remained essentially unchanged since 1949, when Sheldon gave it an R.5 rating. Perhaps the stable rarity rating is due to the recognizable nature of the obverse. A completed coinage die was not ready for use until it was hardened. The February 1826 issue of The Franklin Journal described the hardening process, quoted in Breen's Large Cent Encyclopedia: "The general method of hardening this metal is to heat it red hot, and then plunge it into cold water, and sometimes into mercury, in order to reduce its temperature as quickly as possible." Craig Sholley notes that the hardening process was the "moment of truth" once a die was engraved. Many dies cracked or shattered during the process. Others only hardened near the edges, and cracked or broke upon first use. It was the results of this procedure, according to Sholley, that have often been described as "poor die steel." There is little doubt that the hardening process resulted in the Bisecting Crack variety.
The 1793 Liberty Cap is one of the most desired types among early U.S.Large Cents. The typical example is low-grade, usually with one or more problems (corrosion, surface damage, cleaning, heavy marks, poor strike, etc.), so nice, problem-free examples command a significant premium. PCGS has identified only two example with legitimate claims to the Mint State grade. No Red-Brown or Red examples exist. The finest example has a long pedigree going back to the late 1800s and includes names such as Thomas Cleneay, William H. Woodin, and Louis Eliasberg. It's current grade is PCGS MS64Bn and it is part of the incredible High Desert Collection in the PCGS Set Registry.
David Hall: In mint state condition, the 1793 Liberty Cap is the rarest of the three types of 1793 large cents (Chain cent, Wreath cent, and Liberty Cap cent). The PCGS graded MS64BN is the finest known by far. The coin has super mark-free surfaces and rich brown color.
Pierre LeGras (Paris) - Ed Frossard 5/1882:627, $181 - William Cottier - S.H. & H. Chapman 6/1885:65,5 $90 - Thomas Cleaney - Chapman 12/1890:1800, $200 - Peter Mougey - William Woodin - Thomas Elder Sale 9/1910, $340 - Clarence S. Bement - Chapman Sale 5/1916:291, $720 - Col. James Ellsworth, 1923 - Wayte Raymond - William Atwater - Mehl 6/1946:108 $2,000 - Louis Eliasberg - Bowers & Merena 5/1996:490, $319,000 - High Desert Collection (PCGS Set Registry)
Dr. Charles Clay - William H. Strobridge 12/1871:703 - George M. Parsons - Lorin G. Parmelee Collection - New York Coin & Stamp Co. 6/1890:676 - Ed Frossard - Henry Beckwith Collection - S.H. Chapman 4/1923:3 - Henry Chapman - Dr. George P. French Collection - B. Max Mehl, 1929 FPL, lot 15 - H.A. Stoddard - B. Max Mehl - Charles J. Dupont - Stack's 9/1954:22 - Dorothy Nelson (TAD Collection) - Stack's 2/1976:9 - Stack's 1/1997:414 - Anthony Terranova - Dr. Eugene Sherman - Anthony Terranova - Massachusetts Collection - Oliver Jung Collection - Heritage 8/2014:5522, $329,000
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