1793 U.S. Large Copper Cent
Strawberry Leaf Discovered at Republic !!

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         There are only four U.S.
1793 Strawberry Leaf Large Cents
known to exist in the entire world.
It is so rare it doesn't even have a value listed
in the Red Book coin price guide.
It only states "4 known", and of the 4 known
this one is the finest specimen of all !!

          The story began a few months ago when a woman entered the store of Republic Jewelry & Collectibles in Auburn, Maine. She stated to an employee that she had with her a very rare cent dated 1793. The employee asked owner Dan Cunliffe to examine it. The woman said her father who had purchased this coin around 1941, had presented it to her mother as an anniversary gift. In August of 1943, her father was killed in action in the Pacific War. Upon his tragic death, his widow put the coin away in a safe deposit box as a cherished memento. It had been hidden from sight inside the bank ever since and only rarely spoken of within the family until a few weeks ago. With the recent passing of the widow, this coin became the responsibility of her heirs. They determined it should be returned to the numismatic market where it would be appreciated by its great significance.

          The coin was contained in a ragged envelope indicating its purchase price in the 1940's had been just $2750. Upon viewing her coin, Cunliffe was thrilled to see such a rarity. He informed the woman that her coin was extremely valuable, authentic, and a museum piece. Cunliffe advised the woman her coin would be graded at least a fine condition making it the highest known grade of the four in existence and therefore worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The woman was amazed at the value of her family heirloom.

         The first ever Copper Coins struck for general circulation by the United States Mint were the 1793 Chain Cents. As criticism of this Chain Cent echoed the halls of Congress, the Pennsylvania Gazette reported in March of 1793, "Liberty appears to be in a fright." Soon after all the criticism and the fear for the closure of the United States Mint in Philadelphia, the Chain cent was changed. The design was soon changed to the Liberty head with long, seperate locks blowing more wildly on the obverse side and an elegant wreath of elongated leaves which resemble laurel, The ancient symbol of Victory on the reverse side. All varieties of this coin but one, show a three-leaf laurel like sprig of varied shape just above the date. The exception is the NC-5, "Strawberry Leaf" rarity.

         What sets it apart from nearly all other Wreath cents is the distinctive plant sprig which appears just above the date. While most Wreath cents have very plain leaves, the so-called "Strawberry Leaf" cents have distinctive trefoils, or three-lobed leaves. Over the years this variety has been known variously as "Cotton Leaf or "Clover Leaf," but it is the name "Strawberry Leaf" which seems to have stuck and become dear to the hearts of large cent specialists. Few collectors have ever seen an example of this very rare variety, so seldom does one appear for sale. One is permanently impounded in the collection of the American Numismatic Society in New York, while the other two belong to advanced cent collector Dan Holmes. This incredibly rare coin is as rare as the story that goes with it.

          Cunliffe recently shipped to NGC (Numismatic Guaranty Corporation of America) where it was authenticated and graded as F-12 (Fine -12) with the pedigree designation PARMELEE COLLECTION as it was formerly a part of the famed collection formed by Lorin G. Parmelee during the 19th Century. The newly-certified Strawberry Leaf cent has been attributed under NGC's VarietyPlus service as Sheldon variety NC-3. (Dr. William H. Sheldon's reference book on early cents designates varieties as "non-collectable" [NC] when too few examples are known for a collector to have a reasonable chance of owning one.) "This is history in the making," said NGC Chairman and CEO Mark Salzberg. "It's just incredible that this extremely rare coin could have surfaced in such a casual manner after being unseen since the 1940s." The coin will soon be put up for auction with American Numismatic Rarities of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

          "We were quite shocked to see such an incredible rarity.", states Dan Cunliffe of Republic Jewelry & Collectibles. "We have seen a lot of expensive and rare coins over the years but this one is the best."

Dan Cunliffe Sr. with the 1793 Strawberry Leaf
The photos above are part of the appraisal photos done for the 1793 Strawberry Leaf
by Republic Jewelry & Collectibles
All photos Copyright Republic Jewelry & Collectibles 2004

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