Copper record: $1,265,000 price achieved by cent

Numismatic News, September 10, 2009 by Greg Reynolds

The finest known 1795 large cent with a reeded edge sold for a record $1,265,000 Sept. 6. It was a highlight of the Dan Holmes collection of early large cents. This collection was auctioned by Ira and Larry Goldberg in association with Chris McCawley and Bob Grellman at the Beverly Hills Crowne Plaza.

Although many coins in the collection sold for record prices, the spotlight here is on the Holmes 1795 reeded edge, as this is a bewildering price for a copper coin. Greg Hannigan was the successful bidder and was acting on behalf of a collector of large cents by die variety.

This 1795 large cent is of the die variety known as Sheldon-79. Though it is best known for having a reeded edge, it is truly a die variety, not just an edge variety. A particular die pair was used only to produce the coins that are now known as Sheldon-79.

The 1795 reeded edge cent is listed as a separate issue in most leading price guides, including various Krause Publications. I regard it as an experimental piece. Generally, copper coins do not have reeded edges. Note that it is listed in the standard Judd reference on pattern, experimental and trial pieces. Editors of most guides, however, imply that the 1795 reeded edge cent is a true, regular issue coin that is needed to complete a set of large cents.

The Holmes 1795 reeded edge cent (S-79) is the finest of five to six known. It is graded Very Good-10 by the Professional Coin Grading Service. It is one of only two that have been certified. Last November, Bowers & Merena auctioned one that is PCGS graded Good-4 for $402,500. No others have been auctioned in recent years.