Braided Hair Cents
By 1839, few people inside or outside the U.S. Mint were satisfied with the large cent design, least of all its creator, Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht. But this was nothing new; from its very beginnings, the large cent had suffered abuse and ridicule. First of all, there were the designs. Though loved by present-day collectors, initial reaction wasn’t quite so kind. Contemporary and modern names describing Miss Liberty vividly illustrate the public’s disdain. From the “Liberty in a fright” of the Chain cents through the Classic Head’s “fat mistress” to the “obese ward boss” of the Matron Head, criticism never ceased. Now Gobrecht was faced with the same for his “Silly” and “Booby” head cents of 1839. It was clearly time for a change.
Art historians and numismatists believe that Gobrecht’s inspiration for the new 1839 design was the classic figure of Lo.... (Expand Text)