1793 Flowing Hair Large Cent Chain Reverse Image
by Daniel Malone

The first Large Cent, Flowing Hair, Wreath Reverse, was minted by the Philadelphia Mint in 1793. It was the first Large Cent minted by the US Mint and was the first mass produced coinage by the newly independent States of America. Proceeded only by the Flowing Hair Half Disme, but the 1793 Chain Cent was the first coinage struck at the newly constructed Philadelphia Mint, that was produced in Patterns but also intended as coinage according to George Washington (The 1793 Cent was also proceeded by the 1792 Proposed Coinage Issues but none were used as coinage and are very rare).

The idea of the connected chains, as the first reverse, was to represent the unity of the newly founded United States Of America. However, the Chain design was short-lived and was replaced later in the year by the 1793 "Wreath" Cent. The Chain reverse is the most rare, only 18,000 minted, but the wreath reverse is also rare, and both are extremely rare in high grade. Furthermore, there are other minor design types referred to as varieties and these are even more rare than the regular issue mintages. The Strawberry Leaf variety being the most rare.

1793 Flowing Large Cent Mintages and Values


Designer: attributed to Henry Voight

Diameter: 27 millimeters

Metal content: Copper - 100%

Weight: 208 grains (13.5 grams)

Edge: Vine and vertical bars, alternating

Mintmarks: None (all examples of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint)

Edge Lettering

These is the different varieties of edge lettering.
1. Vine and vertical bars, alternating
2. Lettered: ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR with one leaf after DOLLAR, or
3. Lettered: ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR with two leaves after DOLLAR
Flowing Hair Wreath Rev. Large Cent
(ebay coin auction links)

1793Wreath Vine and Bars Edge
1793Wreath Lettered Edge
1793Wreath Strawberry Leaf

Flowing Hair Chain Rev. Large Cent

1793 Chain AMERICA
1793 Chain AMERI.
1793 Chain Periods
Cherry Picker's List:

1793 Chain Periods

1. Vine and vertical bars, alternating
2. Lettered: ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR with one leaf after DOLLAR, or
3. Lettered: ONE HUNDRED FOR A DOLLAR with two leaves after DOLLAR
Alexander Hamilton's 1791 Report On US Coinage
On January 28, 1791 Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton submitted an extensive report that examined the issues relative to the establishment of a Mint: "A plan for an establishment of this nature, involves a great variety of considerations-intricate, nice, and important. The general state of debtor and creditor; all the relations and consequences of price; the essential interests of trade and industry; the value of all property; the whole income, both of the State and of individuals, are liable to be sensibly influenced, beneficially or otherwise, by the judicious or injudicious regulation of this interesting object."

Hamilton examined all aspects of such an establishment in an extremely detailed report, which was the basis for the Mint Act of April 2, 1792. In his report, Hamilton considered numerous particulars:

"1st. What ought to be the nature of the money unit of the United States?
"2nd. What the proportion between gold and silver, if coins of both metals are to be established?
"3rd. What the proportion and composition of alloy in each kind?
"4th. Whether the expense of coinage shall be defrayed by the Government, or out of the material itself?
"5th. What shall be the number, denominations, sizes, and devices of the coins?
"6th. Whether foreign coins shall be permitted to be current or not; if the former, at what rate, and for what period?"
1793 Flowing Hair Large Cent Wreath Reverse Image
Strawberry Leaves (Rare Variety)____________
Images courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions
Chain Reverse: First U.S. Coin minted at the Philadelphia Mint for circulation.