Classic Head Cents (1808-1814)

Coins / United States of America / 1 Cent

ID: 12

Overview / History

John Reich designed the Classic Head large cent in 1808. This would mark the 5th redesign in 15 years of production of the Large Cent.  The name Classic Head comes from the fillet worn by Reich’s interpretation of Lady Liberty.  Fillets were only worn by ancient Greek athletes, thus imparting the name classic. This cent coin was minted only from 1808-1814, and due to the impacts of the war of 1812, copper planchets were hard to find, resulting in no cent coins produced from 1814 until the Coronet Head Cent coins made their debut in 1816.  

The coin features obverse features Lady Liberty facing left wearing a fillet with the words LIBERTY in her curly hair. The date is found below Liberty and on the left edge of the coin there are 7 stars, and the right edge of the coin features 6 stars, thought to represent one for each of the original states.  The reverse of the coin featured slight differences to the preceding Large Cents.  An olive wreath fully encircles the words ONE CENT and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was featured around the rim. A line is found under the text ONE CENT.  

As mentioned, production of the Classic Head Cent ceased due to a lack of source copper for the US mint.  The US mint mainly sourced their copper planchets from a British firm, and the British embargo due to the war had the US mint searching for quality copper which they did not find. Cents produced in 1813 and 1814 are generally darker in color and made with a lower quality copper as it was all the mint could find.  Cents produced from 1808-1813 had the highest quality copper used yet for US coins, however these years are more prone to wear.  Thus, Classic Head Cents found in good condition are rare and usually garner a high price. That being said overall mintages were low, but variations are not as common as the preceding Large Cents, making this cent generally less sought after

Sign up for exclusive access to the latest price trends, intelligence, auctions and more!

This website uses cookies to track your activity and create a custom experience for you. By using this site, you agree with our use of cookies.
Click here to learn more about cookies and privacy