Description and Analysis

Liberty Cap Cents

Description & Analysis

By the end of 1795 the price of copper had risen to the point that a reduction in the weight of the cent and half cent was needed. This change was authorized verbally by President Washington in December and formalized a month later. New cents would henceforth weight only 168 grains.

Too thin for edge lettering, the subsequent cents all have plain edges. Six die marriages are known, with a single variety (S-79) having a reeded edge. This was perhaps tested as a replacement for edge lettering, but the experiment was not repeated. S-76b and S-78 are common, S-77 (photos) is moderately scarce, and NC-2 and NC-3 are quite rare.

The plain edge variety known as the Jefferson Head Cent (S-80) is not a mint issue, but it was so skillfully prepared that it has long been collected as a regular part of the series. Therefore, William Sheldon included it within his numbering system for early cents.