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The 1804 cent is one of the most sought after dates by collectors.
Photo courtesy Goldber

THERE ARE THOSE TODAY WHO BUY GOLD AND SILVER BULLION AS AN INVESTMENT EVEN THOUGH THE OUTLOOK IS SOMETIMES VOLATILE. Rare collector coins, on the other hand, are another matter. The demand for early American coins, especially the lowly cent, has driven up prices far exceeding inflation. As but one example out of many, in 1990, the 1804 Draped Bust cent in Extremely Fine condition was worth about $4,500, while in January 2019, the estimated cost to the collector is $17,000.

Those who specialize in the early copper coinage of the United States are also well aware of the enjoyment that comes from studying and collecting the famous Draped Bust cents, first struck in the fall of 1796. For more than 150 years, collectors have specialized in these coins and the interesting die varieties that go with them.

The Draped Bust cents were among the first coins laid aside in the 1850s when coin collecting became a national hobby. It was this series of coins, perhaps more than any other, that encouraged interest in the early coinage of the United States.

The story begins at the Philadelphia Mint in the summer of 1795.

In early July 1795, Henry William DeSaussure became director of the Mint, replacing the first director, David Rittenhouse. The new director energetically set about his duties and one of the events that occurred during his few months in office was the introduction, at the beginning of October 1795, of the famous Draped Bust silver dollar.

What part DeSaussure played in the change of design is not known but was probably minimal, as such decisions were matters of government policy because of the criticism directed at the Mint in Congress and elsewhere. According to a later writer, famed artist Gilbert Stuart made sketches for a new bust of Liberty. Once the drawings were approved, they were sent off to John Eckstein, a Philadelphia artist who prepared plaster models to guide Mint Engraver Robert Scot in engraving the dies.

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COINage January 2019, Secret Plans of the U.S Mint, The Future of Gold, Lucky Pennies, Future Predictions, And More.......