Flowing Hair Large Cent

Flowing Hair Large Cent

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Flowing Hair Large Cent:

Chief Engraver, Henry Voigt, also designed the first One Cent coins. They are now commonly called Large Cents due to their size in comparison to the Half Cent coins. The obverse of the Large Cent displayed a representation of Miss Liberty, facing to the right. Her hair was blowing straight back, as if in a strong wind. The phrase “LIBERTY” appeared above her head and the date “1793” was below her. Her mouth and her eyes were open. The reverse of the coin depicted a chain of fifteen links. These links represented the then-current fifteen states at the time of issue for this coin. Inside the oval chain were the words “ONE CENT” and the denomination, which was expressed as “1/100”. Then surmounting the chain were the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” These original dies were cut by hand as this is late 18th century technology. Because the dies were cut by hand, the lettering was a too large for the size of the coin and “AMERICA” had to be modified to “AMERI.”

That coin is popularly known as the Chain Cent, and all of them had edges that were decorated with leaves, vines, and bars, but no lettering. The mint struck 36,103 coins and released them into circulation. The public reaction was very negative. Miss Liberty portrait was mocked but the reaction to the chain, which was meant to symbolize the unity of the then-15 United States, was highly negative. Several newspapers thought it represented and promoted slavery and was strongly criticized.

Voigt responded to the criticism and redesigned Miss Liberty’s features to be smoother and less harsh. The reverse had also been completely changed. He scrapped the chain idea and instead created a wreath of laurel leaves. The denomination was placed inside the wreath. Both the obverse and reverse of the coin were adorned with borders of small beading. There are about 15 known varieties of the Wreath Cent, and the rarest variety with only 4 known examples is the "Strawberry Leaf" coin.

Between 1793 and 1796 Voight redesigned the coins once again, this time creating a gentler Miss Liberty with a liberty pole and cap behind her. There are also numerous variations in these coins as well. But the Chain Cent and Wreath Cent have earned their place in numismatic history and have been widely collected since the 1850s.

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