Ron Guth: 1816 is the first year of what is known as the Middle Dates in the large cent series, encompassing the period from 1816 to 1839. Researcher Howard Newcomb published an extensive analysis of the cents from this period, listing all of the dies and varieties (die combinations) known to him. Similarly, a dedicated cadre of collectors focus all of their attention on obtaining as many of the existing die varieties as possible. One of the attractions of this series is that there are no mega-rarities that prevent a person of average means from completing a date set. However, there are individual die varieties (such as the proof-only Newcomb 7 of 1834) that are extremely rare and expensive. 1816 is a common date that is popular as the first year of issue. 1817 offers an interesting variety with 15 stars on the obverse (instead of the usual 13). The first overdate appears in 1819 (1819/8) along with Small and Large Date varieties.
Like 1819, 1820 boasts an overdate and Small and Large Date varieties. 1821 is one of the tougher dates in the series. 1822 is common. 1823, a scarce date in all grades, features a normal date, an 1823/2 overdate, and an unofficial, privately made restrike from broken dies. 1824 has an 1824/2 overdate plus normal dates. 1825 is a common date. In 1826, an 1826/5 overdate and normal dates can be found. In 1828, both Block and Script 8’s were used, creating distinct varieties. From 1829 to 1832, each year includes both Large and Medium letters on the reverse legends. 1834 and 1835 include Large and Small 8’s and Large and Small Stars in a number of combinations. In 1836, Liberty’s head was modified by making the tip of the coronet more pointed and the tip of the bust narrower and less rounded.
Most dates can be found in nice condition. Some dates, such as 1817 and 1820, were represented in hoards, making them a little easier to locate in top grades. Complete date sets of this series can be assembled with relative ease, particularly in circulated condition.
Sources and/or recommended reading:
“The Cent Book 1816-1839” by John D. Wright
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