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Tom's Personal Collection
Early Dates: Draped Bust Type (1798)

1798 S-144

The last coin I needed for a complete Sheldon set of 1798s! (And by far the hardest to find.) OK, actually it wasn't hard to find; an EAC buddy of mine had this coin on his fixed price list for the longest time, and I finally broke down and bought it. There had been a few other opportunities to buy one, but the coins always had some sort of problem, and I really wasn't trying hard to find one until recently, when it was the last 1798 I needed. This particular example is a neat one, with the heavy crack at OF on the reverse. A really tough variety at R5+.

1798 S-145

I got this one at a coin show. I had a chance to buy the same variety at a flea market at about the same price, but it wasn't nearly as nice as this one. Glad I waited! It has a weak strike in the center of the bust and on the reverse, but is pretty choice otherwise.

1798 S-146

A rare variety. This coin came out of Superior's sale of the John Pijewski collection. A friend of mine was high bidder on it and sold it to me soon after. Not the best looking example, but very difficult to locate.

1798 S-147

The second one I've owned - the first one was nice but an EAC buddy had this example, Ex: Clay Everhart, and it looked amazing, so I upgraded. This one is neat due to the reverse; seems like the diecutter got everything too far to the right; last S in STATES is way right of the highest leaf, and the whole fraction seems to be hugging the right side of the underspace beneath the ribbon ends. My first example didn't show the fraction well but this new one does. My original is still described below.

A fortuitous eBay purchase. I bid on the coin before Hurricane Ivan struck Mobile, evacuated north, and found I had won the coin upon returning to Mobile, for much less than my high bid. Always nice when that happens! An R5- variety, said to "be struck on bituminous coal." Low grade but very decent for this rare variety.

1798 S-148 "Horned 9"

My second example of this variety, which was a massive upgrade from the first. This example came from a Goldberg sale in 2013, an upgrade both in detail and especially in condition. The "Horned 9" feature is bold, and this is a later die state with the large cud at ERTY.

Now this is a neat variety, the 1798 "Horned 9". I got this one off of Auction Universe. There's a spur on the right side of the "9" in the date which points to the center of the top loop of the "8". This is also a Late Die State specimen, with a heavy rim break over "RT" and another die crack that goes through the "98" of the date to the rim, and from the tip of the bust upwards towards the rim. It's slightly porous but not too bad - I was pretty pleased with this one.

1798 S-149

A coin that I was not looking for at the time. An EAC buddy offered it to me, and I accepted. A very rare variety at R5+, and pretty much a choice AG. Same reverse as 1798/7 S-150 (also rare,) and noted for the "179 8" spacing of the date and LIBERTY being more to the right than usual.

1798/7 S-150

The rarest of the three 1798 overdates, and the last one I needed to complete the set of three. I originally bought one from a fellow EACer from a fixed price list, but it was a scudzy example, and I was never very happy with it. An EAC buddy of mine then had a nice example on his fixed price list for awhile. I originally passed on it; it sold, and eventually he bought it back, at which time I decided to go for it, even though it was a bit more than I wanted to pay. (This is the Wes Rasmussen coin which was originaly sold by Heritage in January of 1995, and it was a terrific complement to my S-151.) A few years later, I traded it (back to the same dealer!) for this specimen. It's a VG10 and tied for 10th finest example for the variety.

1798/7 S-151

This is the second S-151 I've owned. A neat variety, the S-151 1798/7 is an overdate where the underlying 7 under the 8 in the date can be seen readily. I wasn't looking to buy this particular coin, but it became available from one of my EAC buddies. (After two days of thinking, and looking at the coin online, I finally decided on it.) This coin has a great pedigree, owned by Wes Rasmussen in 1984 and sold in the 1989 Jack Robinson sale (lot #301,) where it sold for $286. (Wish I had bought it then!) Chris Victor-McCawley had it in 1993, then Doug Bird, Shawn Yancey, and then me. (All of a sudden, I feel greatly humbled.) A scarce variety, and one of my favorite varieties of 1798. Very choice, and an early die state without a lot of the die sinking which obliterates details later in the die's life. 1798/7's aren't getting any cheaper.

1798/7 S-152

The most common of the 1798/7 overdates. I got this from an EAC dealer who used to run an online auction about every month or so. A pretty decent example of the variety, easily recognized from the others since only the left serif of the overdate "7" is visible, as opposed to both serifs on S-150 and S-151.

1798 S-153

A nice, smooth brown coin I got off eBay. It was encapsulated in an NGC holder as a Good-4; I felt this coin was undergraded, especially since 1798's with type 1 hair usually come flatly struck, and the reverse on this coin is VG easily. Plus the date is bold. As a bonus, this cent has the diagnostic cud at the bust tip, which quickly identifies the variety.

1798 S-154 Embedded "8"

Now this was a real goodie. At the 2nd annual GCNA show, my favorite local dealer, Sonny Gilbert, was set up, and (saving the best for last) I made a cursory walk of the floor before showing up as his table. In the middle of his case was this coin, in a SEGS VF20 (no qualifiers) holder. I had to go home and get my checkbook (not thinking I'd find much at the show,) and subsequently this cent found a new home. It's now out of the slab, which was an ordeal, since SEGS slabs don't seem to "crack" too easily. This is a nice one, not an EAC VF for sure, but very scarce at R4+, a rarity rating which hasn't changed since Sheldon published Penny Whimsy.

1798 S-155 Wide Date/Reverse of '96

One of the most colorful (e.g. interesting) 1798's, if you ask me! It has the widest date of any 1798, and it's only one of three varieties of 1798 (there are 44 1798s in all) with the reverse of 1796 (both wreath branches terminate in single leaves.) This one's only R3 (scarce;) the other two reverses of '96 are both rare.

This example is the second S-155 I've owned; I purchased the first one fellow EACer (which was my first purchase of 1998) and liked it at the time, but it had some surface issues. In 2008 one of my good EAC buddies, who puts out a fixed price list, emailed me and said "you really need to check out the S-155 I just listed." This one was no bargain, but I've never regretted paying a bit more for a really nice coin. This one is currently in a PCGS holder graded VG10, but I think it's a F12.

1798 S-156 Reverse of '96

I got this from an EAC buddy who had recently acquired it from an EAC dealer who frequently advertises in Coin World (all right, it was Jim Long; who else advertises coins like this in Coin World?) One of three 1798 "Reverse of '96" varieties and quite rare; almost as rare as the S-178 and probably just as hard to find. A pretty decent, low-grade example, with a bold date and the diagnostic single leaves on the reverse showing.

1798 S-157

A nice eBay purchase. Surprisingly I was the only bidder on it. Turned out the photo was poor, but the coin was not. Easily identified by the morse-code like die break on the obverse connecting the bust to the right rim. Also found with a die break inside the "C" of AMERICA on the reverse.

1798 S-158

An attractive cent that currently resides in an NGC VG10 holder. A tough R4 variety. This variety has the same obverse as S-159 but is but struck earlier, so the obverse parallel die cracks aren't visible yet. This variety has an easily attributable reverse, with A M E R I C A spaced out widely and an arc-shaped die crack starting at the "T" in UNITED and going through "AT" of STATES.

1798 S-159 Parallel Die Cracks Obverse

I got this one from an EAC buddy. This is an upgrade of the first 1798 cent I ever owned, which I used as a trade-in in for this one. An interesting variety due to the numerous die cracks in the left obverse field. This particular specimen was in the J.R. Frankenfield sale and also made an appearance in the EAC 2002 auction and in the McLaughlin/Robinson auction of February 1987. Nice and choice except for a planchet void at the date and one at the bust tip.

Goldberg Photo
1797 S-160 Leaning 7

A coin I purchased from the Goldberg sale of 2/2008. The obverse is easily recognized by the leaning 7 in the date, and is shared between S-160 and S-161. These two reverses are very similar, making attribution a challenge sometimes. This is an upgrade from an S-160 that I purchased from an EAC buddy.

1798 S-161 Leaning 7

I got this one off of eBay. It's a nice example of the style 1 hair. Various small die cracks are present on the reverse. A nice cent, which is a Rarity-2.

1798 S-162 Top of Hair Unfinished

A nice, low grade VG coin I won from a Superior auction, formerly owned by Ronnie Adam. Identified by the top of the hair being incomplete. Similar to S-163, but a different obverse die; one can tell this is S-162 because it has a blunt "1" in the date.

1798 S-163 Top of Hair Unfinished

A tough R4 variety. This variety and S-162 have a similar obverse, recognized by the top of the hair being incomplete. S-163 can be distinguished from S-162 by the prominent engraver's slip on the right side of the fraction bar. I had been searching for this variety forever; finally found one from an EAC member who advertises in Numismatic News, then got this current specimen a few months later from another EAC guy. (Strange how that happens!) This one has nice detail and color with some trivial old marks, and it's a middle die state with a die crack below 17 of the date.

1798 S-164

A nice coin that came out of the Superior Pre-Long Beach auction (May, 2005). An earler die state before obverse die swelling weakens the left side of the date. Tougher R4 variety.

1798 S-165 Large "8"

A rarity-4 variety I purchased off eBay from a gentleman who posts a LOT of large cents. (This is my first purchase from him.) Another buddy of mine (whom I buy a lot of large cents from) tried to outbid me at the last minute! Nice coin, and always seems to be priced very high off any fixed price list I've ever seen.

1798 S-166 Large "8" Rev Die Crack

My second example of this variety, which came from the Phillip Clover collection sold by Heritage in 2012. I really like the color on this one. And the bold reverse die crack is a handy immediate identifier for the variety.

A dirt-common variety, but surprisingly elusive without problems. I see these all the time on eBay, but most seem dark and/or corroded, or have a weak date. An EAC buddy posted this on eBay, and I was fortunate to be high bidder on it. I had been looking for one for a long time. Very easy to attribute due to the arc-shaped die crack on the reverse, almost a mirror image of the crack on S-186.

1798 S-167 Crack Rim to Eye

A more common variety, S-167 shares an obverse with S-166. S-167 was struck later, since it has begun to develop some interesting die cracks at this point. There's a crack thru "B" of "LIBERTY", one through the "8" of the date, and a straight crack from the rim to the eye. On the reverse, there's a small cud at the first "T" of "STATES", and a crack coming from the right side of the cud down into the central reverse, as well as additional cracks through the upper top of the wreath and through E of UNITED. A neat variety as far as die cracks. A purchase from the EAC 2009 auction.

1798 S-168

This was one of the coins in the Evan Kopald collection. This variety was curiously tough to find for some reason, even though it's not all that uncommon. I almost won the Jules Reiver S-168, which was an earlier die state; this one is much later with several reverse cracks around the legend. Bob Grellman calls it a F15+, a friend of mine called it AU; I think it's a VF. (I like the coin, regardless of the grade!)

1798 S-169

A nice VG. This coin came from the Superior sale of 9/19/2005 as part of the Mike Iatesta collection. The photo in the catalog looked like the coin had been cleaned; however, I had someone bid for me at the auction, and he assured me it wasn't. (He was right.)

Heritage Photo
1798 S-170

The first of a few nice 1798 cents that came out of the Jules Reiver sale. (Jules had a lot of nice collector-grade 1798's!) Date is a bit weak, as is typical for S-170, but it's all there.

Heritage Photo
1798 S-171 Obv Cud

A neat, and rather tough, 1798 variety, easily recognized by the obverse cud just left of LIBERTY. This came out of the Jules Reiver sale - Jules had four examples of this variety! This was the middle coin of the three available in the floor auction (the other was in the Internet-only auction.) One of my favorite 1798 varieties because of the cud.

Heritage Photo
1798 S-172

Another Jules Reiver coin. (Jules had four examples of this variety!) When I got my catalog, I had my eye on the last example, which was a VG10 with a reverse cud. However, I decided also to bid on the first one, because during the lot viewing this one really caught my eye in terms of being just a really nice coin. My expectations were to get outbid on this one, and then try to get the one with the cud. I was actually a bit surprised to win this one; it's an NGC VF30, but called an EAC 15 in the catalog. Looks like a VF20 to me. (Isn't it interesting how different people can give drastically different grades to the same coin?)

Heritage Photo
1798 S-173

One of the Jules Reiver coins; I purchased this one in 2009 off eBay, a few years after the auction. This replaces a nice coin that I got from an EAC buddy of mine. This one was in an NGC holder graded XF40 (EAC 25). It looked like it had a bit of verdigris in one of the reverse letters, so I cracked it out. Gentle use of a toothpick removed the offending crud easily.

Heritage Photo
1798 S-174

Before the Jules Reiver sale in early 2006, I lacked eight 1798 Sheldon varieties. With this coin, eight was cut down to four! For some strange reason, I lacked four coins very close together: S-170, S-171, S-172, and S-174. (After the sale, the only varieties I don't have are: S-144, S-163, S-168, and S-182.) The photo for this coin in the catalog wasn't very appealing, but the coin itself was fantastic. Easily recognized by rather severe reverse die clashing, where the outline of the top of Liberty's head is easily seen on the reverese through both ribbon ends, the numerator, and under the last "A" in AMERICA.

1798 S-175 Die Cud at "U"

This variety has a neat die cud at the letter "U" in UNITED on the reverse, plus it's a scarce variety (R3). The reverse cud is all that's needed to positively attribute this coin as a 1798 S-175. It also has a noticeable crack from the bottom right of "A" in STATES to the top left leaf.

This is the second S-175 I've owned; the first I had won in a USCents auction awhile back. This current coin was an eBay purchase, and a nice upgrade.

1798 S-176

A tough Rarity-4 variety I got from a prominent EAC dealer (and good friend.) The obverse is noted by the crude date numerals, as if they were formed by hand. This is the same obverse as the rare S-177 and very rare S-178.

Goldberg Photo
1798 S-177 Die break at Tip of Bust

This is the second example of this variety I've owned. It came out of the Dan Holmes sale in 2009, and I was surprised to win it based on the prices a lot of coins were bringing. (The fact that Dan had multiple examples of this variety in his sale I think helped my chances.) A really nice example, and a massive upgrade from my first example. (Notes on my initial specimen are retained below.)

I got this off of a fixed price list early in 1998. It's a rarity-5, my first "rare" large cent! Rarity-5 is 31 to 75 specimens known. The reverse is quite weak due to the planchet being ever so slightly warped, and the obverse has some "handling marks" to the right of the bust. The distinctive die break on the obverse is quite visible, however, and the planchet is a very nice brown. My fifth 1798! The obverse of this coin shares a reverse with S-176 and also S-178, the latter being a very rare "reverse of 1796" variety.

1798 S-178 Reverse of '96

My second example of this extremely tough variety, which is probably the most notorious of all of the Sheldon varieties for always being found in wretched condition. Those of us who are only after the most choice coins, but are seeking a variety set from this year, invariably have to "settle" for an example of S-178 that they can live with. I bought this coin at EAC 2013. It came from the Walter Reed collection originally.

An almost impossible coin that I finally found after several years of searching. After getting outbid on a few of these from major auctions, an EAC buddy managed to upgrade his and offered me this example. S-178 is the rarest of the three 1798 "reverse of 1796" varieties. They were struck with rusted dies and most, if not all, come on wretched planchets. I wanted to find one with the diagnostic single leaves at the top of the reverse, which is visible on this coin. The obverse always shows a vertical die crack in the right obverse field; advanced stages of the die show a double crack through the date (as on this specimen.) Not the most attractive example, with a prominent dig in the left obverse field and moderate porosity, but I've definitely seen worse!

1798 S-179

A nice example with good color and just a touch of porosity. Quickly recognized by the high "98" in the date. Similar to S-173 in this regard, except S-179 has the "E" in "AMERICA" on the reverse punched upside down and then corrected. (I wanted an example of this variety in particular, since my altered 1799 cent was altered from a 1798 S-179.) This coin came out of a Bowers and Merena auction.

1798 S-180

This is the rarest Large Cent I currently have - an R5+! Not the best looking specimen; it has fine scratches on both sides, but pretty good color. I got this from Superior's Pre-Long Beach Auction in 2/2001. It's easily identified by the large reverse cud over "STATES".

1798 S-181

I got this off USCents auction - the coin looked better in person than when I bid on it! It was listed as a Fine-15, but parts of the coin scream for a VF grade. (Doesn't quite make it, though.) A neat little die crack is found from the left edge of the obverse to the portrait.

1798 S-182

A tough variety that I've literally spent years looking for! I purchased this from an EAC buddy who was high bidder on it at the EAC 2007 auction (I had also bid on it.) EAC graded it net F15, and it currently resides in a PCGS VF25 holder. (The holder is for protection only - ha!) That leaves one variety needed for a 1798 Sheldon set, the dreaded and elusive S-144.

1798 S-183

A rare variety (R5+) I picked up at EAC '03. Back when Early American Cents (later Penny Wise) was first published in 1949, only two examples were known! It's easily recognizable by the peaked hair wave on the obverse and the small die break on the reverse connecting the right wreath stem to the last "A" in AMERICA.

1798 S-184

I got this one from Chris Young, copper dealer extraordinaire. I bought it because it was a nice problem free Very Fine. There is a die defect at the left corner of the 7 in the date which is diagnostic, plus a small dot defect just to the right of the neck.

1798 S-185

A nice VG with minor contact marks but none serious. Part of the Mike Iatesta collection that Superior auctioned off in September of 2005. As it turns out, I am fairly certain this is the same coin that came out of Craig Hamling's USCents #3 mail bid auction of February 1999, lot #39, judging from the photo from that auction. A neat die state with two obverse cracks and reverse clashmarks at OF.

1798 S-186 Rev Die Crack

My second example of this variety, which came from the Phillip Clover collection sold by Heritage in 2012. I bought this one at the same time as my S-166, which has the mirror image reverse arc crack. The S-166 and S-186 are really cool to compare side by side, reverse side up!

I got this off of eBay in May 1998. Some obverse hairline scratches keep this coin from being really nice, but it has great detail! It was in a PCI holder graded VF-20 Surface Damage (subsequently cracked out, of course.) One neat think about this one is the die break on the front, arcing between TY and ending at the rim at 3 o'clock, and the huge break on the reverse.

1798 S-187

An easy variety to attribute, due to the distinctive arc-shaped die cracks in the right obverse field. This specimen has the bonus of being a later die state, with a rim cud opposite the nose where the two die cracks come together. I bought this from a fellow EACer who recently purchased a nice collection of early dates. It came with an auction card identifying it as Lot #883 from the Superior Century Collection Sale, February 2-4, 1992.

Please send questions, comments, and suggestions to webguy@largecents.net.