The inception of the large cent denomination in 1793 marked the debut the Flowing Hair Cent. Within a year, the original design underwent a transformation, introducing a new reverse. The obverse design was also changed to create a new series. These early cents are incredibly scarce and the life-long focus of some advanced collectors.
The obverse design features an early impression of Liberty, facing right. Her hair is swept directly back as if by wind, and her face carries an unusual impression. This appearance led many to refer to this as “frightened Liberty.” The inscription “LIBERTY” above and the date “1793” below complete the obverse design engraved by Henry Voigt.
The original obverse design carried a ring of 15 interlocked links within a chain, surrounding the denomination “ONE CENT.” The denomination is also expressed as a fraction, “1/100.” The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are inscribed around the coin. This early design received criticism since the chain could be mistaken for different symbolism than intended. A revised reverse design featured a wreath with sprays of berries surrounding the denomination. A further modification would also come in the subsequent series.
Flowing Hair Cent Notes:
- The overall number of coins minted was a mere 99,456 pieces across both designs.
- The 1793 Chain Cent is the scarcest in the series and has a strong demand.
- On some 1793 Chain Cents, Henry Voigt made a mistake engraving the inscription on reverse. He did not leave enough space for the word “AMERICA,” and engraved “AMERI.” as a result. An estimated 200 examples exist of this variety, with majority well-worn, damaged, or corroded.
- The 1793 Wreath Cent includes a famous variety known as the “Strawberry Leaf” obverse with only 4 known examples.