How Much is an American Large Cent Worth? (Price Chart)

Large cents were put into production in the early 1790s, becoming the first American cent in history. Besides 1815, they were the most numerous minted coins in the US until 1857.

The US Mint used hand-engraved dies to make cents with a diameter similar to half-dollar coins. Unfortunately, their low face value means heavy circulation, so most are in poor condition nowadays. Let’s check American Large cent values on the current market.

Large Cent History

All large cent variations were minted only in the Philadelphia mint. Some of them were unpopular, and the public often hated how Liberty looked.

With rising production and distribution prices, coins’ face value became lower than the overall cost over time. Therefore, they were replaced in 1857 with copper-nickel coins of smaller diameter.

Paradoxically, these hated pieces are highly appreciated nowadays and on the list of the most collectible coin types among American collectors. Some of them are scarce and unbelievably expensive, although it is almost impossible to find a specimen in high grade.

Once you decide to collect large American cents, you should check for key dates, including:

  • Cents minted during the first years and their numerous variations
  • Scarce early 1800s cents
  • The large and small date coins minted during the last mintage years

Besides variations and numerous design changes, you can recognize seven large American cents produced from 1793 to 1857. Plus, you should consider an unofficial piece minted in 1868, highly appreciated among collectors.

 

Large Cent Variations

Large Cent Variations

Flowing hair large cent with the chain reverse

The Large cent design was changed numerous times throughout the years. The initial design minted in 1793, from February 27 to March 12, was simple with a right-facing Lady Liberty, but the coin reverse was controversial.

The problem was in a chain that coin designer Henry Voigt added as a sign of his support for slavery. The details on the Liberty bust were often absent due to the hand-engraved dies used in that time, but the reverse was typically struck sharper.

It was the first American coin, only 36,103 pieces were minted, and its survival rate was low. Therefore, you can expect that collectors highly appreciate it.

Its price will vary depending on the grade but is always high. For instance, the worst preserved specimen will cost at least $2,000 to $3,000. The best pieces can reach an astonishing $500,000.

Flowing hair large cent

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 100% Copper
Coin weight 0.47549 ounces (13.48 g)
Coin diameter 1.04 to 1.06 inches (26.5 – 27 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Bars and vines decoration

Flowing hair cent with the wreath reverse

Second chief coiner John Adam Eckfeldt altered both the obverse and reverse designs later this year. Liberty got a long wild hair, while a wreath replaced the hated chain. It is known that the US Mint produced 63,000 well-struck pieces with an ornate wreath on the reverse from April 9 to July 17.

Liberty cap large cent

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 100% Copper
Coin weight 0.47549 ounces (13.48 g)
Coin diameter 1.142 inches (29 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

Liberty cap cents (1793 to 1796)

Liberty cap cents (1793 to 1796)

The next step was to hire designer Joseph Wright to redesign the cent once more in the summer of 1793. He changed Lady Liberty and added a Phrygian cap on her head to symbolize freedom.

Another change included the replacement of the unrecognizable plant in the wreath with the well-known laurel wreath. The US Mint made these pieces using a punch instead of hand dies, resulting in a more quality appearance.

Since planchets became too thin and light by 1795, the US Mint gave up edge lettering, so the coins produced had a plain edge during the two following years. Nowadays, only four coins minted in 1795 with a reeded edge exist.

Draped bust and Classic head large cent

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 100% Copper
Coin weight 0.38413 ounces (10.89 g)
Coin diameter 1.142 inches (29 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

Draped bust large cent (1796 to 1807)

Draped bust large cent (1796 to 1807)

Engraver Robert Scot redesigned all American cents in 1796 by designing a Liberty wearing a ribbon in her hair and drapery over the neckline. Additionally, he replaced a laurel wreath with an olive one on the reverse.

With a few minor revisions, this design was in use through 1807. Nowadays, you can still find these specimens in decent condition at a reasonable price, making them the most available and affordable early cents on the market.

Coronet Liberty head (Matron and Braided hair Liberty head) large cents

Face value 1 cent ($0.01)
Compound 100% copper
Coin weight 0.38413 ounces (10.89 g)
Coin diameter 1.122 inches (28.5 mm)
Shape Round
Edge Plain

Classic head large cent (1808 to 1814)

Classic head large cent (1808 to 1814)
Image

Second engraver John Reich redesigned the existing Draped bust cent and changed Lady Liberty by adding the fillet, ornate headgear, on her head. You can see 13 stars around her bust, symbolizing the original colonies.

Interestingly, these coins were minted from high-quality copper without much metallic impurity. Unfortunately, that shortened their life since soft surfaces wear and corrode faster.

Nowadays, it is almost impossible to find high-graded Classic head large cents. Therefore, rare specimens that occasionally appear on the coin market are expensive, particularly those with red mint luster.

American large cent value*

Date Quality
Good Fine Extra fine Uncirculated
Flowing hair large cent
1793 $8,000 $19,000 $65,000 $125,000
Liberty cap large cent
1793 $6,000 $16,000 $80,000 $170,000
1794 $370 $800 $4,000 $6,100
1795 $350 $1,250 $6,000 $7,500
1796 $400 $1,350 $6,000 $12,000
Draped bust large cent
1796 $250 $900 $6,000 $12,500
1797 $140 $425 $3,500 $7,750
1798 $135 $550 $7,500 $14,000
1799 $3,500 $12,500 $80,000 $210,000
1800 $75 $265 $3,850 $7,000
1801 $75 $225 $1,500 $3,000
1802 $65 $200 $1,000 $1,900
1803 $65 $175 $1,000 $1,450
1804 $1,200 $4,500 $16,000 $47,000
1805 $60 $175 $1,200 $2,500
1806 $70 $225 $2,000 $3,000
1807 $60 $185 $1,200 $2,300
Classic head large cent
1808 $80 $325 $1,850 $3,250
1809 $120 $500 $3,750 $7,200
1810 $80 $325 $1,700 $2,750
1811 $85 $500 $5,200 $10,000
1812 $80 $325 $1,600 $2,500
1813 $60 $325 $1,600 $2,500
1814 $80 $325 $1,600 $2,400
Coronet Liberty head large cent
1816 $20 $45 $190 $300
1817 $20 $40 $140 $225
1818 $20 $40 $135 $225
1819 $22 $40 $275 $375
1820 $25 $45 $335 $550
1821 $35 $135 $1,300 $2,300
1822 $25 $45 $425 $700
1824 $85 $500 $4,000 $8,500
1825 $20 $40 $325 $650
1826 $25 $100 $1,000 $1,500
1827 $20 $40 $225 $425
1828 $20 $35 $210 $410
1829 $20 $35 $200 $385
1830 $20 $35 $190 $300
1831 $20 $30 $150 $250
1832 $20 $30 $150 $250
1833 $20 $30 $150 $250
1834 $20 $75 $550 $1,250
1835 $20 $35 $225 $400
1836 $20 $35 $125 $250
1837 $20 $35 $125 $250
1838 $20 $35 $120 $225
1839 $20 $30 $110 $265
1840 $20 $30 $85 $200
1841 $20 $35 $125 $250
1842 $20 $30 $85 $220
1843 $20 $30 $85 $160
1844 $20 $30 $85 $160
1845 $20 $30 $75 $135
1846 $20 $30 $75 $135
1847 $20 $30 $75 $135
1848 $20 $30 $75 $130
1849 $20 $30 $100 $150
1850 $20 $30 $60 $125
1851 $20 $30 $65 $125
1852 $20 $30 $65 $125
1853 $20 $30 $65 $125
1854 $20 $30 $65 $125
1855 $20 $30 $65 $125
1856 $20 $30 $65 $130
1857 $60 $100 $200 $300

*by JM Bullion

 

Coronet head large cent (1815 to 1857)

Matron head large cent (middle date from 1815 to 1839)

The Mint assigned Chief Engraver Robert Scot to redesign the large American cent one more time in 1815. It was known that only two Matron head large cents were minted this year. As you have probably learned, blank copper planchets couldn’t come to the US during a wartime embargo.

After three war years, all planchets were worn out, and the US Mint needed to stop production until 1816. Thanks to the new design prepared for this year, the Liberty looked more mature, plus she got stars differently arranged around her bust. After Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht modified the coin look in 1835, this cent continued to be minted until 1839.

Braided hair large cent (late date from 1839 to 1857 and unofficially 1868)

With only a few minor changes in 1843, the US Mint continued to produce this Large cent from 1839 to 1857. Chief engraver Christian Gobrecht changed Lady Liberty’s hair by designing a braid and gave her a youthful look. As the final Large cent type, these coins are the most common nowadays.

Interestingly, one of the mint employees used old planchets and struck several large cents in 1868. Less than twenty of these unofficial coins struck in copper and nickel have survived to these days. Many collectors are prepared to pay a fortune for one of these instant rarities.

 

Summary

The US Mint produced different variations of large cents from 1793 to 1857. Even though numerous pieces were minted, not many survived until today, especially in the high grade. It is tough to find the oldest minted versions, so these specimens are always costly.

1 thought on “How Much is an American Large Cent Worth? (Price Chart)”

  1. I have an 1857 large cent. It is in at least fine condition. On the front above the female bust it says “E PLURIBUS UNUM.” On the obverse it says around the perimeter “MILLIONS FOR DEFENCE” and in the center, not ONCE CENT for tribute.”

    Is this a rare coin?

    Thank you very much,
    Mark Green
    917-697-6953
    mark91st@gmail.com

    Reply

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