US Large Cent Coin - Chain Cent
The United States Large Cent is the first coin minted and released
for public circulation, together with Half Cent coin. This coin served
the US public for 64 long years before it was replaced by the Flying
Eagle Coin. Minting of this coin started in 1793 and stopped in 1857 due
to production cost issues and unpopularity of its designs.
The US Large Cent series of coins bears one of America’s most
controversial designs during its time. And this is just one of the
reasons why these oversized coins (26 to 28 mm in diameter and weighs 10
to 13 grams) are widely
sought-after by serious numismatists of today.
All seven designs of the US Large Cent issues bore the image of Liberty
although in varying depictions. The first issue in 1793 was designed by
Henry Voigt, a rather rogue or crude depiction of the lady with wildly
flowing hair on the obverse side and a circle of chain on the reverse.
The design was called Flowing Hair Cent Chain Reverse. Although this
design was the first mint of the Federal Government using its own
equipment, the public didn’t forgive its unattractiveness. The coin met
an outraged public when it was released. Not only did the public thought
it was ugly, they also thought it to be offensive because of its
undertone of slavery with the chain. This first Federal regular issue,
which only had a total of 36,103 coins, did not survive very long. The
coin was redesigned later that year by Adam Eckfeldt under the orders of
David Rittenhouse, then Mint Director of the U.S.
Eckfeldt made Liberty’s hair wilder and longer and replaced the chain
with a wreath of indistinct leaves. The revised coin was referred to as
the Flowing Hair Cent Wreath Reverse. A total of 63,000 coins were
minted. David Rittenhouse was still unhappy with the new design so he
commissioned another designer in the same year. Joseph Wright toned down
Liberty’s hair and added Liberty Cap on the obverse. He also revised the
wreath on the reverse and used laurel leaves for it. This new design
called Liberty Cap Cent enjoyed a better reception from the public. It
lasted until 1796.
Lady Liberty’s appearance improved more and more in the succeeding four
designs: the Draped Bust Cent, minted from 1796 until 1807; the Classic
Head Cent, from 1808 until 1814; and the Matron Head Cent (Middle
Dates), from 1816 until 1839; and the Braided Hair Cent (Late Dates),
from 1839 until 1857. Despite the improvement, minting of these Large
Cents stopped when the US Mint succumbed to the high cost of production
and favored a smaller coin struck in cheaper metal.