1795 Jefferson Head Large Cent

The 1795 “Jefferson Head” Liberty Cap Large Cent (Buy on eBay) is listed in most references, but it is not an official Mint product. These enigmatic pieces were made by John Harper, who had produced them as samples of his work in the hopes of gaining a coinage contract from the federal government. He supposedly produced enough pieces to distribute to each member of Congress, although there are currently just over 30 examples known to exist.

The pieces can be identified by the distinctively different appearance of Liberty and specifically an S-shaped swirl of Liberty’s hair curling just above the date. The exact source of the name “Jefferson Head” is unknown, but the pieces have a long history of auction appearances. The issue is found carrying either a plain or reeded edge, with the latter being the rarer variety. From the pieces which have survived, it appears that the coins were placed in circulation, where they remained unnoticed until withdrawn with other early coppers.