Guide to U.S. Coronet Head Cents

No cents were struck in 1815 due to planchet supply constraints related to the War of 1812. Production would resume in 1816 with a new design and significantly higher mintage levels. The new series is known by various names including Coronet Head, Matron Head, or more broadly Liberty Head Large Cents. Although the new design was never considered to be much of an improvement over the previous designs, it would remain in use with modification until 1839.

As had been the case since the 1790’s, the United States Mint obtained copper planchets from the firm of Boulton & Watt, located in Birmingham, England. A trading embargo was imposed at the start of the War of 1812, which prevented new planchets from being shipped to the United States. Once the supply on hand had been exhausted, the production of cents was suspended. No cents would be struck in 1815, representing the only year from 1793 to present that cents were not produced. Once planchets could be obtained, the production of the denomination resumed with a new design by Robert Scot.

The obverse features the head of Liberty, facing left. This rendition of Liberty is more mature and unfortunately has been the object of much criticism. Liberty wears a headband, inscribed with the word LIBERTY. Thirteen stars appear fully surrounding, with the date positioned below. The original design would last until 1836, when it was modified by Christian Gobrecht. The basic design remained the same, but with overall improved execution and a slightly younger appearance for Liberty.

The reverse features a nearly identical design to the prior series. A circular wreath of olive branches is present, with ONE CENT and a horizontal line at the center. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA appears surrounding, evenly spaced and close to the rim. On the modified design executed by Gobrecht, the wreath is slightly lower, but the difference is minimal and goes largely unnoticed.

The Coronet Head Large Cents represented the first type for the denomination which saw somewhat regular proof coin production. The number of proofs produced was very small, with less than a dozen to fifteen pieces struck for certain dates. Some were perhaps struck as presentation pieces, while others might have been requested by the very limited number of coin collectors in the United States at the time.