Matron Head Large Cents – A Large Cent with a Long History
Talk about going from bad to worse! Ever since 1793 when the Mint designed the first US coins for circulation, the designs were ridiculed, derided, scorned and mocked. No one was truly happy with them. They did not have the elegance of their European cousins. They did not have the stability of worldwide acceptance either.
So in an effort to appease the Chief Engraver, the Mint Director asked Robert Scot to try his hand at this once again. Scot had been by-passed for his assistant, John Reich, in creating the prior series of Large and Half Cents (the Classic Head series). In the eyes of the public, Reich’s designs were wrong. The classical women of ancient times never wore a headband such as Miss Liberty wore.
Scot decided to take Miss Liberty in yet another direction. His depiction of her visage shocked those who were hoping for artistic beauty. Miss Liberty, again, was made to look older, heavier and less friendly than ever before. She no longer had a headband but now wore a “Coronet” in her hair, sort of a crown. Some early coin collectors called this type of Large Cent the Coronet Style. But most collectors thought that too regal. We didn’t want royalty on our coinage as England had. Most collectors instead focused on how Miss Liberty had aged. We now had the “Matron Head” Large Cents.
Miss Liberty now wore a coronet with the word “LIBERTY” in relief across the diadem. Her face looked considerably older than her predecessor did. This matronly face was going to grace the Large Cents for the next 21 years. Miss Liberty was surrounded by 13 stars and the date was directly beneath her.
The reverse remained largely unchanged with “ONE CENT” in 2 lines in the center of the wreath on the reverse with “UNITED STATES OF AMEREICA” around the wreath.
The Mint struck 2,820,982 1816-dated coins. In 1817, Scot created 2 distinct varieties – 15 stars and 13 stars. It is thought that Scot had spaced the stars too close together and rather than scrapping the die he just created, he instead added two additional stars. When Patterson saw the coins as they were already in circulation, he ordered a new die to be created displaying the appropriate 13 stars as mandated by the Coinage Act. Of the 3,948,400 coins dated 1817, it is not known how many of each variety were struck but the numbers must be reasonably close until you get to the higher circulated grades before there is any price difference. 1818 was an uneventful year for these coins with 3,167,000 struck without variety.
1819 had 3 distinct varieties among the 2,671,000 coins struck – an overdate and a Large and Small date all valued similarly. 1820 was the same way with 3 varieties just as 1819. There were 4,407,550 coins struck. 1821 was a scarcer date with no varieties but only 389,000 coins minted. 1822 was uneventful as well but the mintage was considerably higher at 2,072,339.
1823 is the rare date of this series. The exact mintage figures are unknown and may be included with the 1824 dated coins, which only total 1,262,000 coins. 1823 has a 3/2 overdate, a normal date and an “unofficial restrike – struck from a broken obverse die.” All varieties of 1823 are rare and expensive.
1824 had two varieties among the 1,262,000 coins struck while 1825 had no varieties among the 1,461,000 coins struck. 1826 has 2 varieties in the 1,517,425 coins minted. 1827 had no varieties with 2,357,732 coins minted. 1828 has 2,260,624 coins minted and 2 distinct varieties. 1829, 1830, 1831 and 1832 each had the same two varieties – Large Letters and Medium Letters. The mintages ranged from a low of 1,414,500 coins to a high of 3,359,260 coins. 1833 had no varieties among its 2,739,000 coins struck.
1834 had a minimum of 4 distinct varieties among its 1,855,100 coins struck. 1835 had 3 varieties among the 3,878,400 coins bearing that date.
As 1835 approached, a new engraver was asked to “slightly modify” Scot’s “Matron Large Cent” design and that he did.
|Date||Type||Mintage||Fine Value||Unc Value|
|1823||Matron Head – 3/2 & Normal||Unknown||$650||$25,000|
|1823||Matron Head – Unofficial Restrike||Unknown||$350||$1,500|
Expand your collection today and shop for an 1816 Large Cent VG.