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1802 Draped Bust 1C: an interesting die variety


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For the past few weeks, I've been reading up on Draped Bust cents in order to make a wise collecting decision. When I came across an 1802 that looked like a good candidate, I researched further to ascertain the particular die variety, as that affects value. Using online and written resources, I tried to correlate this coin first to the common die varieties, given its low-end R1 price. Hours later, I couldn't find a match, so I checked against all known die varieties. And, here's what I found:


This coin is an S-235, which Sheldon describes in Penny Whimsy in the low R5 range, and "a great rarity above VF". Only a couple of examples have come to auction in the last 5 years. Below is a comparison between the obverse of the coin I bought, and a known S-235 from a Goldberg's auction (source: Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles) Since this variety is typically recognized by its rim break above "RTY", this coin was missed because it's an early die state before the break. Cool huh?



(left coin appears rough due to resample to match size of right pic)

Some notes on determining this die variety:

a. The "RTY" rim break has not developed yet, which suggests an early die state

b. Point of hair curl centered below B; position of LIBERTY matches overall

c. Minor defects in the field matches in both coins

d. Another matching defect in the field

e. Matching date positions, sizes, and angles


The reverse also has some very distinct matching details:



a. "OF" is weak in both coins

b. "ONE CENT" matches exactly in relation to the wreath

c. Matching fraction, die damage through "U", and the die crack through "100" perfectly matches.


Through this find, I now understand one cannot always identify a coin through die breaks and other process flaws because earlier die states don't have this feature. Update, I have now discovered that Breen designates my particular coin as DS2 in his Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793-1814, described as "very rare". Wow!

As one more example, here's an S-235 showing an even earlier die state (DS1) than my coin:




This very early die state XF45 auctioned for $5462 in 1-2005!

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The bottom coin is a great looking coin and well worth its price.


Moneydog--that's partly because the last coin is a 'die state 1'. Mine is a DS2.

And, I just heard from a friend thumbing through Breen's Early United States Cents 1793-1814, that both early states are regarded as "very rare".

Ok, I'm really jazzed now! :ninja:

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