The new 'Matron' Head Coin featured an enlarged head of Liberty. The fillet holding the hair on the previous Classic Head series was replaced by a coronet and the word LIBERTY was added in relief. The reverse was essentially unchanged and retained the "Christmas wreath" of Reich's 1808 design. While generally referred to as the "Coronet" type, this is not a universally accepted name. Some collectors prefer "Matron Head." Dr. William Sheldon, author of the standard reference for cents struck from 1793 to 1814, scathingly remarked that the figure of Liberty on these coins "resembled the head of an obese ward boss instead of a lady."
During the 24 years of the Coronet design (1816-1839), the Philadelphia Mint produced a total of 51,706,473 pieces. Among numerous over dates and varieties, one in particular stands out: 1817 with fifteen stars on the obverse. Why this coin has fifteen stars is still a subject of debate, but one theory has it that Scot erred while punching in the devices and spaced the first several stars too close to one another. Wishing to save the die, he added enough stars to balance the design, exceeding by two the normally required thirteen stars.
While none of the dates in the series are outstanding rarities, the "key" date is 1823. It is scarce in all grades. Although counterfeits in the series are rarely seen, several generations of restrikes for the 1823 cents exist, each with successively larger and larger die breaks on the obverse. The years of 1835 through 1839, redesigned by either William Kneass before his stroke or Christian Gobrecht afterward, are considered transitional. While the design differs in several significant aspects, these years are generally collected within the Coronet series. In 1839, four different varieties were struck, among which are two of the most widely collected in 19th century numismatics: the so-called Silly Head and the Booby Head.
Proofs are very rare and were generally made only for diplomatic presentation sets. Several dates are reported to have a proof finish on the obverse and mint frost on the reverse. Allegedly, these "one-sided proofs" were struck for collectors who wished to display their coins with the obverse side up and did not care how the reverse was finished.
Grading Coronet cents is relatively uncomplicated due to the coin's simple design. Wear first shows on the high points of the hair curls and on the high points of the leaves. A caveat, however: Many copper collectors use grading standards agreed upon by the Early American Coppers Society, and application of these standards can be quite confusing to non-specialists.