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Finest N-5 1825 cent acquired unattributed from eBay

The Newcomb 5 variety of 1825 Matron Head Cent has been authenticated by ANACS and graded Fine 15.

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Finest N-5 1825 cent acquired unattributed from eBay

The Newcomb 5 variety of 1825 Matron Head Cent has been authenticated by ANACS and graded Fine 15.

A collector purchased the coin unattributed from an eBay auction Jan. 22, for $171.01 (included state sales tax).

This collector's coin is 17th example of the N-5 variety. It was discovered by Tom Deck, an Alabama collector who purchased another N-5 example in good condition in 2012 eBay auctions for less than $100. This piece had been identified as the N-4 variety in the eBay listing.

Deck's discovery was reported in Coin World, Jan. 23, 2012. Howard R. Newcomb listed N-5 as unknown in his 1944 reference United States Copper Cents, 1816-1857.

Bob Grellman, a numismatist and researcher, believes Newcomb's claim of the absence of the N-5 variety is likely because he hadn't seen one when he published the reference.

Andrews' An arrangement of United States Large Cents 1816-1857 was reprinted by Texas dealer B. Max Mehl in 1924 with 49 new varieties. Grellman explains.

Grellman stated that Andrews' 1883 description was too vague. Newcomb then delisted the variety, claiming it didn't exist. Newcomb may have missed one or not seen one in a decent quality, so he assumed it was an Andrews error. I have Newcomb’s personal copy the Andrews reference. It contains Newcomb's handwritten note stating that the variety was unknown to them. So he delisted it."

Cherrypicking 101

An anonymous collector explained that he often searches eBay for U.S. large coins and only addresses the listings that have a Buy It Now option. This allows him to purchase the coin at the posted price, without having to bid in an auction.

"This way, if a scarce item gets listed, it's easier for me to find it before anyone else in my coin club (EAC or Early American Coppers)," an anonymous collector replied to Coin World via email.

"Fortunately, the seller provided photos that were high enough resolution to identify the type. "The die characteristics are subtle and wouldn't be noticed by everybody." The eBay listing identified the coin by its date, but did not attribute it to a die variety.

What should you be looking for?

According to the collector, he first identified the reverse die of the coin by looking at the images from the eBay listing.

The anonymous collector explained that the clue was the positions of the leaves under D’ (in UNITED), the final S’ in STATES and the?F' in OF. The 'clincher' clue was the small triangle-shaped chip in the die just left of the O in ONE and above the berry. This is the'signature for this die.

This identified the reverse die but did not mean that the coin was N-5. This is because the reverse die can be shared by N-5 as well as N-10, which is a more common variety.

"So, I knew then that this coin was either N-5 oder N-10. I quickly turned to the image of the reverse. N-5's date is much smaller than N-10's, and the '5" in the date is just below the lowest curl. However, the key to identifying this die was the strong coronet baseline beneath the letter E in LIBERTY. These features identify the obverse die that produced N-5 and the more common N-4.

This coin is a Newcomb-5 (N-5), when the reverse and obverse are combined.

"It took me three nervous minutes to complete this identification, which gave me the confidence and the courage to click the buy-it-now link. I'm glad I was the first to I.D. The coin. Later, I found out that another member of the club was going through the exact same steps as I was and would have bought this coin in just 15 to 20 seconds.

The anonymous collector was confident that his assessment of the N-5 variety was correct and submitted his 1825 Matron Headcent to ANACS for authentication. Grading and encapsulation were also done.

ANACS forward the coin to Grellman, who will examine it thoroughly before encapsulating.

Michael Fahey, senior numismatist at ANACS, notes that the anonymous collector’s coin has "some light contact marks." There are some minor rim bruises and light roughness around stars and date. It is a nearly 200-year-old copper coin that has been in circulation. The color is good.

Grellman stated that 16 additional N-5cs have been discovered since Deck's 2012 discovery. Most of these were in grades ranging from About Good 3 through Good 5, up to this anonymous collector's recent find.

Grellman, a fellow copper specialist and author of The Cent Book 1816-1839 in 1992, certifies that the newly discovered coin was Fine 15. However, Grellman said that ANACS did not grade the coin. He also stated that John Wright, a fellow copper specialist, agreed that the coin's condition should be considered Fine 12 or fine 12+ according to Early American Copper club grading standards.

Grellman stated that "the discoveries since [the Coin World] January 2012 articles have trickled in steady flow since collectors were taught how to identify the variety." Your article was a great help in making that happen. John Wright has the date of discovery for each example. I know that at least one was discovered in 2021.

Grellman said that Chris McCawley and he auctioned a few of the more valuable N-5 coins through M & G Auctions. I believe the coin should be worth close to $10,000 or more. We will have more examples, which is very likely.

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