The 1796 Draped Bust Large Cent (Buy on eBay) represented the first year of issue for the type and saw a considerable mintage of 363,375 pieces. This would actually turn out to be among the lowest of the series, with several issues seeing total production in the millions.
A number of different dies were created for this year and several varieties exist. Among the most sought after is the so-called “LIHERTY” variety. This variety was created when the die-sinker erroneously punched the letter “B” of “LIBERTY” rotated 180 degrees. To correct the mistake, he repunched the letter properly, creating a letter that somewhat resembles an “H.” On the coins produced from this die, the mistake is obvious, resulting in a popular variety which provides some insight into the production process at the early United States Mint.
Examples of the 1796 LIHERTY Large Cent carry a premium at all grade levels, which expands in higher grades. Only a single piece is known in mint state grades, followed by a few pieces in AU. What is believed to be the third finest example graded PCGS AU58, but previously considered XF45, sold for $80,500 at an auction in February 2008.
- Designer: Robert Scot
- Composition: 100% Copper
- Weight: 10.89 grams
- Diameter: 29 mm
- Edge: Plain