United States Draped Bust large cents 1796 through 1807 are savagely sought out by collectors, starving for good examples to help complete their sets. High grade coins are realizing record prices at auction. So much that now investors have taken notice and joined the fray. A rapidly diminishing supply of an already limited commodity is destined to eventually become completely unavailable.
If a savvy investor was to go out and buy every 1805 or 1806 large cent they could find, that action alone could raise the price. These coins are becoming that rare. As examples are purchased and placed into sets, one more is gone. Eventually they'll all be gone and the investment will pay off.
The draped bust large cent replaced the capped type cent during the year 1796 and the public was very happy. They took to this new design and it was successfully integrated into general circulation. The coin continued to be struck until 1807 with some notable mint highlights within the series.
One of these highlights is the famous 1804 cent which has such a low mintage that most collectors will never see one. A re strike was attempted in the 1800s with an altered 1803 obverse die and a reverse die from an 1820 large cent. The re-strike does carry a high premium just slightly less then the original.
The 1799 large cent is arguably the key to the series. 42,540 coins don't go too far when you're talking about a collector base in the millions. This is another coin that collectors have trouble filling in the hole.
In 1800 and 1801 there were fraction errors where the numeral 000 was mistakenly cut into the reverse die and subsequently they cut the proper 100 number over it. Easy to see and a well known error coin, this example will bring a large premium from error coin collectors.
In 1803, there is one die combination that is very valuable and extremely rare. It combines the small fraction on the reverse with the large date on the front of the coin. Many copies and counterfeits of this die variety exist and any coins purchased should be authenticated and graded.
1807 also has a rare die variety as well as over dates from the previous year. This happens when the mint decides that an 1806 die is still in good usable condition and then they re cut the new year over the old one. As all of these dies were cut by hand not such a good cover up occurred and we can still see the 6 under the seven in the date. This over date is a high interest coin to collectors.
There is also a large date and a small date for the year 1807 and one far out prices the other. The small 1807 over 6 worn out costs thousands of dollars when it's counterpart with the large seven can be bought for under 50.00. Quite a coin to cherry pick at a yard sale if you happen to come across the right one.
A very nice set of draped bust large cents can be assembled fairly reasonably, you'll need to shop around hard and get lucky for those key dates. Most of the coins are available on eBay but the competition is fierce. You better be in attack mode if your attempting to win a 1799 or 1804.
A fantastic hobby and a great series to collect. If you're a beginner, it's still a possibility in low grade, if your an investor I couldn't think of a better place to suggest you put your money, than into a high grade collection of United States Draped Bust Cents.
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(price as of May 26, 2016)