Mention the word “classic” and people think of works that are beautiful and enduring—Greek and Roman statues, Shakespearean sonnets, even luxury cars from a bygone era. The so-called “Classic Head” large cent produced by the United States Mint in the early 1800s is old enough to be thought of in that context, but it’s not exactly “classic” in terms of beauty. On the contrary, its portraiture is plain—some might even say homely. And yet, while it may be misnamed, it is viewed with great affection by many collectors.
The large, copper cents issued by the Mint during the nation’s formative years underwent frequent changes in design. Four major changes occurred before cent coinage was even five years old, and lesser variations took place with regularity within these basic types. A semblance of stability seemed to have be.... (Expand Text)