Learn About the Flowing Hair Large Cent – 1793 Chain
The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, established that there would be a United States Mint with a Director, an Assayer, a Chief Coiner, an Engraver and a Treasurer. The Act also provided that the dollar would be the denomination and it would be equal to the Silver Value of the Spanish Milled Dollar. The Act of May 8, 1792, provided for a Copper Coinage. This Act stated that the Director shall purchase up to 150 tons of copper which shall be made into Cents and Half Cents. That is where this story begins.
With the mandate from Congress to immediately begin creating a US copper coinage, Chief Engraver Henry Voigt went to work. The obverse of the coin displayed an allegorical representation of Miss Liberty, facing to the right. Her hair was blowing straight back, as if in a stiff breeze. The Word “LIBERTY” appeared above her head and the date “1793” was below her. Her mouth was slightly opened but her eyes were very wide open.
The reverse, which was mired in controversy, depicted a chain of 15 links. These links represented the 15 states, in existence at the time of issue for this coin. Centered 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 rather than using master hubs as is the practice today.
As the dies were cut by hand, the lettering was a bit too large for the size of the coin and Voight modified the word “AMERICA” to “AMERI.” When viewed, the “AMERI.” Was too large for the coin and no one had imagined that the name of the country would be abbreviated. The simple, and correct answer, was to make all of the lettering smaller so the “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” would fit easily and look proportionate to the size of the coin.
The edge of all Chain Cents is decorated with leaves, vines and bars. There is no edge lettering.
The US Mint struck 36,103 coins and released them into circulation. The public reaction was mostly negative. Voigt’s Miss Liberty was mocked as being “creature-like” and “in a fright.” But the reaction to the chain, which was meant to symbolize the unity and strength of the then-15 United States, was highly negative. Several newspapers thought it represented and promoted slavery, and was rebuked as such. As the Mint had run out of blank planchets, more were ordered but the Mint Officials were listening to the public comments and Voigt was ordered to redesign the reverse of the coin. That is how the 1793 Wreath Cent was born.
There are 3 varieties of the 1793 Chain Cent:
- “AMERI.” On the reverse
- “AMERICA” on the reverse
- Periods after LIBERTY and after 1793 on the obverse
By the late 1850’s US coin collectors realized how rare the Chain Cent was and how few of the original mintage was still in existence. The coin was highly desirable even then. It is a highly desired date and types even today.
|Date||Type||Mintage||Fine Value||Unc Value|
|1793||Chain – AMERI||36,103||$30,000||$250,000|
|1793||Chain – AMERICA w/Periods||Included||$25,000||$160,000|
|1793||Chain – America w/No Periods||Included||$24,000||$125,000|
Expand your collection today and find a 1793 Flowing Hair Chain Large Cent Fine-15 PCGS (America).