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1793 to 1857 Large Cent

One of the first coins struck at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia was the Large Cent. Copper was cheap enough at one time that our United States Cents were very large. They were larger than our modern quarter dollar is today. This large coin was first minted in 1793 and with production lasting until 1857. Collectors call these cents Large Cents as a generic term to separate them from the later Small Cents.

Three design types appeared in 1793 cent large, each design had flowing hair on the obverse. The first reverse design, known as the Chain Cent, features a low-relief head of Liberty with fine, flowing locks of hair. The reverse shows a chain of fifteen links. Initial reaction to the coins was quite negative. The liberty head appeared to be in a panic and the chain was seen by many as representing slavery as opposed to strength and union.

As a result, Liberty head hair was changed and the chain was replaced with a wreath. This design was known as Wreath Cent. However this design fared little better than its predecessor and was soon replaced. The Liberty Cap design turned out to be a little more stable and was minted from 1794 to 1796.

1831 Large cent 1831 Large cent

1831 Large Cent

In 1796, the Draped Bust design appeared and was minted until 1807. The Classic Head large cent ran from 1808 to 1814. The Matron Head design appeared in 1816 and lasted until 1839. The final design type is the Braided Hair type of 1840 to 1857. In 1857, the Large Cent was replaced by the new Small Cent that we know today.

The best place to purchase large cent coins is at eBay. Most of these coins are very expensive in the better grades and rare years. However, if you just want one or two for your collection look for large cents dated from about 1800 to 1857 in the lower grades of about good, good or very good. You should be able to find a specimen for your collection in the $10.00 to $25.00 range.

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