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Tom's Personal Collection
Early Dates: Draped Bust Type (1797)

1797 S-120b Gripped Edge

A nice coin I got from a Heritage online bullet auction (now freed from its ANACS slab.) Not sure if the gripped edge was done at the U.S. Mint or whether the planchets were shipped this way from England. This variety, along with S-121, has the "reverse of 1796", with the single leaves at the top of the wreath. You can tell the difference between S-120 and S-121 by the date spacing; on S-120 (this one,) it's spaced "1 7 97". On the S-121 the date spacing is even.

1797 S-121b Gripped Edge

This was a coin I didn't expect to get. Tom Reynolds bid for me on the Superior Pre-Long Beach Sale (May, 2005), and at the end of the auction I saw that I had been slightly outbid on the coin. Or so I thought. Tom went a bit higher and got this beauty for me. Glad he did, as it's now one of my best '97's, and definitely a neat variety with the gripped edge and reverse of '95.

1797 S-122

One of those varieties I was never really looking for, as it's a very rare one at R5+. An EAC buddy of mine happened to buy the Evan Kopald coin from his 2006 catalog however and put it up on his fixed price list a few months later. It sat there for a few days, and after I saw it (and took a night to think about it) I couldn't pass it up. A medium die state with a light die crack over MERI, and the central reverse pretty much gone due to swelling. Great planchet however and a pleasing medium brown color. It has a small planchet void on the bust, and the obverse rim bump at K2.5 was not as bad as I feared. I call this the "crowded fraction" variety, due to the fact that the fraction seems to barely fit into the space between the ribbon ends, and the 1 in 100 virtually touches the left ribbon end.

1797 S-123

A very scarce coin at Rarity-4, but this is one of the Nichols hoard coins, where a great many of the population are in mint state. An EAC buddy of mine offered this specimen to me and I couldn't pass it up - I had never seen a circulated S-123 up to that point!

Heritage Photo
1797 S-124

Wow - February of 2008 was a good month for 1797s! Along with S-127, S-129 and S-134 that I purchased in this month, I like this one the best; it came out of the Walt Husak sale of large cents, one of the finest (if not the finest) collection of early dates ever assembled. This coin is a Rarity-5+, and either 8th finest or tied for 9th finest known, depending on if you follow Noyes or Bland. Also, this coin was tied for the 12th cheapest coin in the entire sale! It's currently in a PCGS holder graded VG10 (no way it makes it into a PCGS holder normally.) It has VF+ detail but is uniformly porous; its EAC grade in the sale was also VG10. Photographing it through the slab was not entirely successful; the Heritage photo is much better.

1797 S-125 Swelling at Bust

I bought this coin out of the EAC 2008 auction. After finding a S-141 and then a S-142 on the EAC bourse (which was unexpected,) this was the last 1797 I needed for a Sheldon set. My plan going into EAC 2008 was NOT to find the last three 1797s I needed, but it just worked out that way! This coin is a bit dark but glossy, with swelling at the bust taking out the last 7 in the date, which is typical.

1797 S-126 Crack at Throat

A great variety in terms of die failure! This example has a die crack that starts at the throat and ends at the rim at K3, and progresses into an internal cud along the way. A small auxillary crack is above this one; it stars at rim just above the main one and traverses into the field on an upward diagonal a little ways. I had wanted one of the three specimens in the Jules Reiver sale but was shut out; this is a nice Fine example that Heritage sold in one of their July online auctions. S-126 often comes without the die cracks, but you gotta love those later die states.

Goldberg Photo
1797 S-127

This coin came from the Goldberg sale of 2/2008. I bought three 1797s from this sale alone, including S-129 and S-134. This variety had eluded me for a long time, and this one caught my attention right away, being well-worn but nice for the grade. It's also in a very late die state with a large crack in the left obverse field, which adds to the appeal in my opinion.

1797 S-128 "M" over "E"

A more obtainable variety of 1797, but this one has an interesting error: The reverse features a die blunder where the diemaker punched an "E" where the "M" in AMERICA is supposed to be, then punched the "M" over the "E". Traces of the "E" show up boldly on this example. This was a Jules Reiver coin that I found on eBay about a year after the Reiver auction.

Goldberg Photo
1797 S-129 "M" over "E"

Purchased from the Goldberg sale of 2/2008. This is a really tough variety; I've had a few chances before this coin to purchase an S-129, but not many, and the price was always prohibitive. This coin won't win any beauty contests but it was affordable. The "M" punched over "E" in "AMERICA" is clear. The Goldberg photo is better than mine.

1797 S-130 Die Break at Left Rim

One of the first large cents I ever bought was this variety. I bought an example at a baseball card show a number of years back, after selling a bunch of cards. It was my second 18th century large cent. The surfaces were quite grainy all over, front and back, with a small scratch below "OF", but it had great detail. At the time I just thought it was a 1797; after buying Penny Whimsy many years later, I found out that it was an S-130.

This current coin was a downgrade in sharpness, but a major upgrade in condition. I purchased it from an EAC buddy.

Heritage Photo
1797 S-131 Stemless Reverse

I bought one of these at the first big coin show I ever attended, the Dalton Georgia show, from Chris Young. Boy, I remember him having a bonanza of copper; I could have stayed at his table for hours. This variety shares the same obverse as S-130 and has a larger die break at K9 on the obverse rim. That original coin is now gone, sold to a fellow EACer. This current specimen came from the Jules Reiver sale of January 2006. It was in a no-problem NGC slab graded G6; the catalog called it an EAC VG7. I tend to side with NGC on this; the surfaces are a bit rough, so I'd net it G6. The neat obverse die break and the diagnostic stemless feature are bold on this coin.

1797 S-132 Stemless Reverse

This is my second S-132 - I bought it from an EAC buddy, who had it on his fixed price list for quite awhile. Definitely nicer than the first one, but he made me an offer I couldn't refuse on it. A very tough variety at R5+ (the toughest of the four 1797 stemless reverse varieties,) and this one is in a PCGS holder graded F15. Weird how some easier varieties can be really hard to find, and then two of these show up. Go figure!

The first S-132 I had was an example of "opportunity knocks". When the Evan Kopald price list came out, this was one of the varieties I definitely wanted, even though it wasn't high on my priority list at the time, but S-132's don't come around too often, and fortunately it was still available.

1797 S-133 Stemless Reverse

The last of the stemless reverse 1797's that I needed for a mini-set. This was a Heritage coin that appeared in their online auctions; I ended up not bidding on it, then regretted that decision, only to find out an EAC buddy of mine had won it to put on his fixed price list! (It didn't stay there long.) Currently housed in an NGC holder graded G6.

Goldberg Photo
1797 S-134

Purchased from the Goldberg sale of 2/2008. This is one coin that I had bid on but didn't really expect to win (but glad I did.) It's a nice upgrade to a coin that I purchased from an EAC buddy awhile back. A very peculiar variety in many ways; there's a promiment die chip in the right obverse field, the fraction is much smaller than normal, and the letters of ONE CENT are unusually thick. This is also a later die state with a die crack from 9 to the last 7 in the date, and at K3 on the reverse.

1797 S-135

One of those very curious varieties that was part of the Nichols hoard. S-135 is listed as R3+, but that's misleading in a way, as a great deal of these are actually uncirculated. This one is a nice F12 (as listed in the Superior auction catalog.) Circulated examples of S-135 seem to be very tough to find.

1797 S-136

A nice example I first viewed off an EAC buddy of mine's website (and purchased a few weeks later after I couldn't get it out of my head.) Recognized by the date spacing "1 7 97". Attractive example formerly housed in an ANACS VG10 holder.

Heritage Photo
1797 S-137 Sprawled Ribbon Reverse

I can remember wanting to have this variety for a LONG time (a number of years, actually.) Not a rare coin by any means, but for some reason or another, when I'd see one at auction that I liked, I'd always get outbid in the end. My luck changed when I attended the Jules Reiver sale in January 2006 - this example was in an NCS holder "XF40; improperly cleaned". Viewing the coin in person, I figured this was a bit harsh. I won the lot for a tiny bit less than my max bid. The "sprawled ribbon reverse" is my terminology; the ribbon ends are both skewed away from the fraction, and the final "A" in AMERICA is touching the right ribbon, which uniquely identifies this 1797 variety.

1797 S-138 Reverse Die Sinking

I bought this coin at the FUN show. Sometimes a coin just gets your attention; this was one such coin! Nice detail with no real problems, and the die sinking on the reverse is neat. A Rarity-1 coin (common,) but probably not common in this condition.

1797 S-139

A nice coin I bought from one of my favorite EAC dealers off his fixed price list. This is a condition upgrade from one I owned for several years that had minor porosity. Neat die state with an obverse crack from the bottom curls to the rim at K8.

1797 S-140 Die Sinking at Date, Reverse

Purchased from an EAC buddy, who originally acquired it from the Dan Holmes sale in September 2009. A common variety, but one that I had had my eye on for an upgrade for quite some time, and this was a huge upgrade from my original coin, described below.

This was purchased off eBay from a fellow EAC member (I didn't know this at the time I bid!) I was the sole bidder; perhaps people shyed away from this coin because of the weak date. I purchased it because of the weak date - it's a late die state of the variety, which often has the last "7" obliterated due to die bulging. It also shows the diagnostic defective right pendant on the "T" in LIBERTY, plus the die scratch from the fraction bar to the right ribbon on the reverse. A slightly porous coin, which I have net graded VG details, net G5 (perhaps a little too severe.) A common variety, but one which took me awhile to find.

1797 S-141

A coin that I purchased at EAC 2008 in Dallas, from an EAC buddy. At the time this is one of three 1797 varieties that I needed for a Sheldon set. A rather scarce variety. Easily recognized by an engraver's slip that connects the right end of the fraction bar to the right ribbon.

1797 S-142

I bought this coin at EAC 2008 from a prominent EAC dealer who happened to have TWO of them (This is an R5+ variety!) The first one I looked at was affordable but definitely below average condition-wise; not awful, but a "hmm" coin. This one was much nicer, and definitely hurt the wallet, but in hindsight I really would have regretted letting this one go and getting the other.

Heritage Photo
1797 S-143 Stemless Reverse

Wow. When perusing the Jules Reiver catalog in early 2006, there were three coins that really caught my eye in terms of eye appeal and rarity: The 1796 S-114, 1796 S-118, and this coin. I figured I might have a shot at one of these three, and when I went to lot viewing, I marked a star next to these three varieties, any of which would make my drive to Dallas worthwhile. When the first lot, S-114, came up, it quickly exceeded my max bid and hammered at $4250. The second coin; same thing. I put down my bidder number early; sold... for $3250. Ouch. One of my EAC buddies, Shawn Yancey, was sitting in front of me and said, "I have a good feeling you'll get the S-143." My heart raced as the auctioneer finally got to lot #19356. I decided to hold my number up for one bid increment larger than my max bid I had written down. When this number was reached, one more bid would have knocked me out. But then... nothing. "Sold to bidder #19." Yes... I would end up with one of the "big 3" that I came for. Man, auctions are fun, if not nerve-racking.

Enough of that... on to the coin. Great surfaces - struck from misaligned dies, but a nice, sharp date and bold stemless reverse. The surfaces are significant - most examples have major problems. Probably my favorite Draped Bust coin to date.

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