Description and Analysis

Liberty Cap Cents

Description & Analysis

This cent variety received the name "Jefferson Head" decades after it was coined, due to Liberty's imagined resemblance to the USA's third president. The Jefferson Head Cents were not products of the Philadelphia Mint. Instead, they were struck by John Harper of that city as a proposal of the work he could perform for the United States. He created his own dies in imitation of the cents then circulating.

In 1795 a congressional committee was investigating the U. S. Mint for its relatively poor output of coins, and this opened the door for outside manufacturers to solicit a contract coinage. Harper was just such a person, and he had actually testified before the committee in February of that year. He struck and distributed these sample cents as a demonstration of his capabilities, and they were later simply spent by their recipients.

This plain edge cent is more often seen than the lettered edge variety, with perhaps a few dozen known.