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The Twin Leaf Collection, Part II

Author: Stack's Bowers Galleries / Wednesday, March 16, 2016 / Categories: Crossing the Block

In July 2015 we had the pleasure of presenting for sale the Twin Leaf Collection, then the finest collection of Middle and Late Date large cents. The coins had been assembled over two decades by a collector who sought completion but was driven to buy many of the finest coins that became available along the way. As a result, the collection included many Condition Census pieces, as well as coins with impressive provenance. While most cent collectors would be satisfied to acquire one example of each variety, here we have a collector who stopped at nothing to acquire every Proof available, including duplicates, and worked to assemble representatives of the varying die states as well as the Newcomb numbers. 

The 733 lots sold in July 2015 were those we selected as representing the finest example of each Newcomb number, but as die states were a secondary focus of the collection, there were substantial duplicates. As with any collection, the occasional upgrade also resulted in secondary or tertiary specimens. Presented here is a fine offering of duplicate coins from the magnificent Twin Leaf Collection.

When selecting coins for the first sale, there were cases where it was a challenge to pick the best coin since quality was always a guiding light in the assemblage of this collection. As a result, some coins in this catalog will be found to be of similar quality to those sold last July, while a few might even be seen as finer. At the very least, all will be seen as nice for what they are. There are many Condition Census coins included here and nearly all have interesting provenances.

For an important piece of context relating to a collection of large cents, we reproduce here a segment of our introduction to Part I of the Twin Leaf Collection:


October 15, 1792

“In execution of the authority given by the legislature, measures have been taken for engaging some artists from abroad to aid in the establishment of our mint; provision has been made for the requisite buildings, and these are now putting into proper condition for the purposes of the establishment. There has also been a small beginning in the coinage of the half dismes and cents, the want of small coins in circulation calling our first attentions to them.”

-Thomas Jefferson


Jefferson wrote these words to President George Washington in his capacity as secretary of state, a response to Washington’s own request for commentary on important matters which could be incorporated into his presentation at the opening of the next session of Congress. Though Washington’s speechwriter, Alexander Hamilton, omitted mention of the cent for what would become Washington’s address, Jefferson was central to the early efforts to organize the Mint, and his words make it clear that the cent was one of the first denominations struck by the United States, even before the readiness of the first United States Mint facility.

Once the facility was complete, regular coinage commenced in earnest in early 1793. It is with the cent that coining operations began within the walls of the new Mint. On March 1, the first delivery of coins occurred, all one-cent pieces, amounting to 11,170 Chain cents.

The cent is the one denomination that has remained a standard of American coinage. From 1792 to the present time, only a single year has passed without production of the cent, 1815. In 1816, the cent is the only denomination that was struck. Considerable quantities were made in most years, the most notable exception being 1799. The availability and diverse range of dates makes a set of these coins by date not only desirable to collect, but relatively easy with just a few challenges to keep the search interesting.

Just as the cent has been a standard within the context of American coinage, it has been central to collectors since the birth of American numismatics. Whether assembling a cabinet of fine old coppers or filling a Whitman “penny” board,  for more 150 years, cents have been avidly collected by those just beginning and those very advanced. They have long been a numismatic favorite and seeking out the right specimens can be a long and pleasurable journey. Certainly the collector of the Twin Leaf coins enjoyed his journey and now has the pleasure of seeing a new generation of collectors enjoy his coins, as they continue their journeys through the ages.