1794 Liberty Cap Large Cent, Starred Reverse

Mystery surrounds the 1794 “Starred Reverse” Liberty Cap Cent, which is perhaps the most famous of all the large cent varieties. Along with 83 dentils around the circumference of the reverse of the coin, there are also 94 tiny, five-pointed stars. In some cases the stars are covered by the dentils, suggesting that the stars were engraved first. The variety was not discovered until 1877, by which time presumably all examples had long been in circulation.

Many theories have been proposed to explain the existence of this variety. These have included the possibility of a leftover die from 1792, leftover planchets from the same year, or the use of the stars as an anti-counterfeiting measure. The true story will perhaps never be known, which only serves to add to the popularity of the issue.

While approximately 50 examples of the Starred Reverse Cent are known, virtually all are well circulated. The single finest example is graded PCGS AU50 and sold for $632,500 at an auction held in February 2008. The second finest example is only a VF, with all other survivors in lower grades.