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Braided Hair Large Cents 1839 – 1857

Learn What Makes Braided Hair Large Cents 1839-1857 Special

The next and final phase of the Large Cents took place in 1839. The coin had not been appreciated since the Chain Cent in 1793. Everyone complained about the designs and no matter which Engraver took over, the results were similar. Christian Gobrecht was now the Chief Engraver of the US Mint and he was determined to create a coin that the public would admire.

(The female figure, left, from Benjamin West’s Painting of “Love Conquers All” was Gobrecht’s inspiration for the Braided Hair Large Cent. The figure was that of the allegorical representation of Love.)

The Braided Hair, the coronet, the younger face, and the soft feminine features all were captured by Gobrecht in a European-influenced style. He truly believed that he, alone, had finally captured what so many Engravers had failed to do. Would the public feel similarly? The general consensus was that the design was nice, BUT, the commercial usage for large copper pennies time had come and gone. The coins were large and heavy and many remained in bank vaults. Some enterprising gentlemen realized that they could purchase copper Large Cents by the keg and they would pay less for the coins – about $140 – than the US Mint paid for the copper blanks.  Then as of now, the cost to produce the Large Cents was more than the face value of the coins.

(Gobrecht’s Braided Hair Large Cent design.)

Miss Liberty was youthful and very feminine. Her previously unruly hair was neatly braided and her coronet proudly displayed “LIBERTY”, 13 stars surrounded her with the date below. The reverse was largely unchanged from the prior two efforts.

As 1856 approached the Mint experimented with smaller cent coins of a different, and cheaper, metallic composition. By 1857, the death knell for the Large Cent was sounded and the large copper pennies were “No More.” But by the 1880s the coin dealers of the day started including them in their catalogs and an entire collecting base developed. Collectors collect Large Cents by date, by variety, by Sheldon Variety, By Newcomb Variety and a myriad of other ways. They are among the most collected US coins, trailing Morgan Dollars but leading most other coins by a wide margin.

The Braided Hair coins of 1839 had no varieties in the unknown number that was actually struck. The 1840-dated coins had an overdate and Large and Small dates among the 2,462,700 coins struck. 1841 saw nearly 1.6 million coins struck bearing that date, 1842 had 3 varieties in their 2.38 million coins struck. 1843 had 3 significant varieties in the 2.4 million coins struck. 1844 had a normal date and a “44 over 81 overdate” in nearly 2.4 million coins. 1845 was uneventful with nearly 3.9 million coins struck.  1846 had 3 varieties in 4.12 million coins minted. 1847 had a normal date and an overdate out of the nearly 6.19 million coins struck. 1848, 1849 and 1850 were dates without major varieties.

1851 had a normal date and an overdate of 1851 over 81. 1852, 1853 and 1854 were all dates without major varieties. 1855 was an unusual year in that we struck coins with Slanting 5’s, Upright 5’s and a Slanting 5 with an extra piece of copper hanging from the ear – the “Knob on Ear” variety. 1856 had Upright and Slanting 5 varieties. And the final year, 1857 had both a Large Date and a Small Date variety.

DateTypeMintageFine ValueUnc Value
1839Braided HairUnknown$50$400
1840Braided Hair2,462,700$50$400
1841Braided Hair1,597,367$50$500
1842Braided Hair2,383,390$50$400
1843Braided Hair2,425,342$50$700
1844Braided Hair2,398,752$60$1,000
1845Braided Hair3,894,804$50$275
1846Braided Hair4,120,800$50$500
1847Braided Hair6,183,669$50$750
1848Braided Hair6,415,799$50$250
1849Braided Hair4,178, 500$50$250
1850Braided Hair4,426,844$50$200
1851Braided Hair9,889, 707$50$400
1852Braided Hair5,063,094$50$200
1853Braided Hair6,641,131$50$200
1854Braided Hair4,236,156$50$200
1855Braided Hair1,574,829$50$225
1856Braided Hair2,690,463$50$250
1857Braided Hair333,546$150$650

Expand your collection today and shop our assortment of Large Cents (1793 – 1857).

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