Thursday, December 15, 2011
Oldest Coin / Worst Condition
Over the course of the hour I only found three good signals. The first two were shotgun shells, but just as the sun was setting I received a very strong high tone. I cut a fairly shallow plug in the red clay, and quickly spotted the green disc protruding from it. Based on the location, I knew it had to be an old copper coin.
This is my third large cent, but unfortunately it's worn completely smooth. You can see my first two large cents (also found near Saxapahaw) in a previous post. Despite having no discernible detail, I can still tell that it's my oldest coin to date. My first two large cents (1844 and worn-date) are off the "coronet" variety, which is comprised of two subtypes. Both are "braided hair coronet" large cents, produced between 1840 and 1857, and measure 27.5mm is diameter.
This new large cent is 28.5mm in diameter, and not as thick as the braided hair coronet. This makes it an older version of large penny, though I'm not sure exactly which one. The larger diameter was used on five previous versions of the US large cent from 1793 to 1839, as well as older foreign copper coins used for early currency. It is most likely the "matron head coronet" cent, minted from 1816-1839. The matron head sported a larger "matronly" bust of Lady Liberty. The change to the braided hair coronet came from negative public reaction to the matron head, and replaced the earlier Lady Liberty with a more youthful, slimmer figure. Below is a comparison of the early matron head design with the braided hair variety.
With the extent of the wear and corrosion on this coin, I'll never know exactly which type it is, beyond a large cent made during or before 1839. It's still my oldest coin to date, and despite the condition, I'm very excited to have found it.