The copper cents of 1793-1857 were the first United States coins to attract the
attention of collectors in this country. Hobbyists both casual and serious were
assembling date sets by the mid-19th Century, and this activity grew exponentially
after the series’ demise in 1857. By that time numismatists had become aware of
the many varieties that resulted from the use of hand tools in completing each die,
and large cents were also the first United States coins to be sought extensively
by varieties. A number of books and monographs were published over the years describing
and classifying these varieties, though all have since been superseded by the references
While the number of persons collecting large cents by date has likely declined in
favor of type collecting, the intensity and competition among variety specialists
has grown steadily. The traditional favorites remain the early cents of 1793-1814,
but the middle dates of 1816-39 now command much greater attention than in previous
generations. Due to greater standardization in the die sinking process after 1839,
the late dates through 1857 are far more difficult to attribute by varieties, and
this has limited their popularity to the most dedicated and patient of collectors.
Still, the rare varieties are prized, particularly in the higher grades.
NGC will assign Newcomb (N) numbers to all cents from 1816 through 1839. Howard
Newcomb’s numbers begin anew with each date. In other words, the first variety for
each date is N-1, followed by N-2, N-3, etc. While Newcomb’s numbering system is
still the standard, his book has been superseded for the dates 1816-39 by the second
volume of Noyes’ attribution reference, as well as by a similarly excellent book
by John D. Wright.
* In order to have the above varieties requiring the $15 fee designated by
NGC, VarietyPlus service must be requested at time of grading.
VarietyPlus service is also available for coins already encapsulated by NGC.
For coins where the fee column is blank, no VarietyPlus charge is required to
have your coin designated during grading. For coins marked $15, a $15 surcharge
applies to the tier fee during grading, or a $15 fee applies to have the VarietyPlus
designation added to any coin already graded and encapsulated by NGC.
Newcomb, Howard R. United States Copper Cents 1816-1857. Quarterman Publications, Lawrence, MA, 1981
Noyes, William C. United States Large Cents 1793-1814. Published by the author, 1991
Wright, John D. The Cent Book 1816-1839. Published by the author, 1992