Half-Cents and Cents : Draped Bust Cent

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Obverse of 1803 Large Cent Reverse of 1803 Large Cent

Ron Guth: The Draped Bust large cent first appeared in mid-1796 as a replacement for the former Liberty Cap design.  The new obverse was paired with three different reverses (Reverse of 1794, Reverse of 1795, and a new reverse that would continue through 1807).  1796 large cents also include a LIHERTY obverse (the "H" is actually a B over inverted B) and a Stemless reverse.  1797 large cents are found with normal and stemless reverses, gripped and plain edges.  The first overdate of the type occcurred in 1798, when the 8 over 7 variety appears.  Minor changes were made to Liberty's hair in 1798 for cosmetic reasons.  1799 is the rarest date of the series and includes both normal and 1799/8 varieties.  1800 is a common date but includes two overdates: 1800/1798 and 1800 80 over 79.  Something odd was going on with the engraving team at the Mint in 1801.  The1801 "Three Errors" reverse includes a fraction that reads 1/000, a wreath that has only one stem, and the U of UNITED is made with two capital I's.  Another 1801 error shows the fraction as 1/000 with the first 0 corrected to a 1.  1802 was not a perfect year either, as some varieties have a stemless wreath or a fraction that reads 1/000.  Similarly, 1803 includes a Stemless variety, a corrected fraction, and different combinations of Large and Small dates with Large and Small fractions (the rarest being the Large Date/Small Fraction variety).  1804 is another rare year in this series, although it is not as valuable as the 1799.  An odd, private restrike combines an 1804 obverse die (corrected from 1803) with a reverse of an 1820 Cent.  1805 and 1806 are uneventful years, with only a few, essentially normal, varieties in each year.  1807 boasts a pair of overdates: the one with the Small 1807/6 being an especially rare variety.  Also included in 1807 are Large and Small Fractions and a "Comet" variety that shows a long die break behind Liberty's head that looks like a comet streaking through the skies.

Mint State examples of Draped Bust large cents can be elusive.  Even the 1797, which was a hoard date, has been widely distributed among collectors.  Full Red Draped Bust large cents are very rare.

In 1808, John Rech's Classic Head design replaced the Draped Bust type.