Books and Resources
The following is a list of some of the more useful references on large and half cents with a brief description of each, including availability. There are MANY additional references that the serious student of early coppers can seek out.
This is the official journal for EAC. Well-respected among numismatic journals in the United States, it has won a number of awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild under the editorship of Harry E. Salyards (1986 to present). It has been published without fail every two months, September 1967 through July 2011. Beginning with July 2011, it will be published quarterly in July, October, January, and April. Each issue includes a mixture of original research articles, records of national and regional meetings of club members, and more informal "Collector Notes," in which both veterans and novices share their copper-collecting experiences. There is also a "Swaps and Sales" section, where members may post coins for sale or trade. All members receive P-W, as it is affectionately called, as a benefit of membership. All issues of P-W, back to the first issue in the fall of 1967, are available to members on a DVD that is updated every two years. Issues published since the last DVD update are available in the "Members Only" section of the EAC website (which can be accessed by logging in at the top of the eacs.org main page).
Grading Guide for Early American Copper Coins (W.R. Eckberg, R.L. Fagaly, D.E. Fuoss and R.J. Williams. 2014).
The first book published by EAC, it covers all aspects of the grading of early copper coins. Profusely illustrated with high quality color photographs, it addresses sharpness and net grading of half cents and large cents, and sharpness grading standards of federal and state coppers coined under the Articles of Confederation. Sharpness standards for half and large cents are given by type with all major types fully illustrated in grades from AG to MS. Where there are varieties within a type that show different wear characteristics (e.g., Chain cents, 1794 half cents, Liberty Cap large cents of different dates), all are fully illustrated in grades where their wear characteristics differ from the standard pattern. The differences between the traditional technical grading standards used in EAC and the less rigorous standards used commercially are illustrated. The differences between technical and market grading are explained. In addition, there are sections devoted to the history of grading, proper handling and preservation of early coppers, detection of counterfeits and alterations, and the effects of die states and different varieties on grading. Finally, there is a section on the pricing of coppers graded by EAC standards as opposed to those graded by commercial standards.
Large Cent Books
W.H. Sheldon. 1958. Penny Whimsy.
Long the "bible" of early copper collectors, this book is an update of a 1949 work by Sheldon, Early American Cents. Varieties are well described and placed in an emission sequence that has been significantly updated since the book was published. Varieties are illustrated by photographs, but they are of uneven and often mediocre quality. Though much of the information about the coins is badly out of date, Sheldon's musings on related topics still make an interesting read. This is the book that popularized the notion of a "condition census" or listing of the finest known examples of a variety. It also introduced the 1-70 "quantitative" grading scale that has been greatly expanded upon and misused by dealers in recent years. Long out of print, this book has been republished and reprinted several times, often with updates. All of these editions are readily available from numismatic literature dealers.
W.C. Noyes. 1991. United States Large Cents 1793-1814. Litho Technical Services, Bloomington, MN.
W.C. Noyes. 1991. United States Large Cents 1816-1839. Litho Technical Services, Bloomington, MN.
These companion volumes with unnumbered pages illustrate the varieties of early- and middle-date large cents with large, reasonably clear, black and white photos. Information is provided on major die states, and the books give Noyes' condition census of the best few examples of each of the varieties (in his opinion at the time the books were written). Available as a set from: Charles Davis, email@example.com.
W.C. Noyes. 2013. United States Large Cents, 1816-1857, Volumes 5 and 6.
W.C. Noyes. 2006. United States Large Cents 1793-1794, Digital Dynamics, Ann Arbor, MI.
W.C. Noyes. 2007. United States Large Cents 1795-1797, Digital Dynamics, Ann Arbor, MI.
These two books present photographs in color of Noyes' condition census-level coins that he has photographed. Pricier than the other titles and quite restricted as to coverage, so primarily aimed at serious students of the earliest dates, they are nevertheless a great source for color images of these varieties. Available from: Charles Davis, firstname.lastname@example.org.
J. Wright. 1992. The CENT Book 1816-1839. Privately published.
This 400-page book, written by a middle-date specialist, is the authoritative book on the series. Illustrated with large black and white photos of each variety, it gives die state and rarity information. It also includes a six-page update and errata list to keep it current. Available from: John Wright, email@example.com.
W. Breen 2000. Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of Early US Cents 1793-1814. Bowers and Merena Galleries, Wolfeboro, NH.
Decades in development, this large (857 pages, plus plates), posthumously published tome, edited by Mark Borckardt, contains very extensive condition census data compiled by Del Bland. Each variety is illustrated by large, usually good quality, black and white photos. There is an updated emission sequence, and this book, like Breen's half cent book, gives a wealth of information about the history of early large cent collecting, errors, methods of manufacture, etc. Out of print, the book is usually available from numismatic literature dealers.
J.R. Grellman. 2001. The Die Varieties of United States Large Cents 1840-1857. M&G Publications.
At 464 pages with over 100 photographs, this is the authoritative reference on late date large cents. Available from: Bob Grellman, firstname.lastname@example.org.
J.A. Boka. 2005. Provenance Gallery of the Year 1794 United States Large Cents, Falcon Books, San Ramon, CA.
This 138-page book illustrates a significant example of each Sheldon variety of 1794 large cent with color photos and the provenance of the coin since its discovery by numismatists. It also presents biographic information about the owners of significant coins and the early history of the Mint. It is available from: Al Boka, email@example.com, www.1794LargeCents.com.
J. Neiswinter. 2013. The Aristocrat: The story of the 1793 Sheldon 15. privately published.
This interesting volume tells the story of a single very rare variety of 1793 Liberty Cap large cent. It contains an excellent history of what has been known about the variety since 1869, large color photos of the obverse and reverse of each known specimen, a listing of auction appearances of all examples since1880, and a lot of information and anecdotes about collectors who have owned examples.
Available from the author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Half Cent Books
R.A. Cohen, Jr. 1982. American Half Cents, the "Little Half Sisters," Wigglesworth & Ghatt, Arlington, VA.
An updating of Cohen's first edition, published in 1971, this 131-page book was hugely influential in its time, giving the variety nomenclature that is still used. However, its usefulness has been replaced by Manley's book, below. "Wigglesworth and Ghatt" were the names of Cohen's dog and cat, respectively.
W. Breen. 1983. Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States Half Cents 1793-1857. American Institute of Numismatic Research, South Gate, CA.
Like his large cent book, Breen's 501-page (plus color plates) book was in development for about 30 years. This magnum opus on half cents is the only half cent book to feature color photos of a choice example from each date. Though its die state, condition census and rarity information are obsolete, the book is still useful for all of the collateral information it provides on the history of half cent collecting and the early Mint and the technical information about the manufacture of these coins. This now out-of-print book did much to popularize half cent collecting. It is available from numismatic literature dealers.
G.S. Heim. 2013. A Quickfinder for Attributing Varieties of United States Half Cents, 1793-1857. Second Edition. privately published.
Exactly what its title claims, this 44-page book offers keys to identifying the varieties of half cents. It is an update to his earlier edition with much improved color images.
Available from the author: email@example.com
R.P. Manley. 1998. The Half Cent Die State Book 1793-1857. privately published.
Currently, the "definitive" reference on half cent die states and their relative availabilities, and containing the most up-to-date emission sequence, this 300-page book is illustrated with large black and white photos of each non-proof variety; it supplants the Cohen reference. Out of print, copies are frequently available from numismatic literature dealers.
DVDs and other Media
A computer program and database produced by Jon Lusk and Bill Noyes. There are two components to NumiStudy. The first is a program that manages images (displaying, measuring, overlaying, and help with attributing early copper). The second is a database of pictures - over 22,000 at last count spread across four databases - early and middle/late date large cents, half cents, and colonials. The great majority of the pictures are large cents. Available from: Jon Lusk, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A project of David Lisot, who video records numismatic events and produces DVDs of them. He records all educational forums at EAC conventions and other major coin conventions and shows, as well as interviews with collectors, dealers and show attendees. A complete list of available titles and ordering information are available at www.coinvideo.com.
W.C. Noyes. 2014. Penny Prices, Digital Dynamics, Ann Arbor, MI. Third Edition.
The latest edition of Penny Prices. This book also gives Noyes' advice for collectors of early copper.
J.H. Robinson. 2011. Copper Quotes by Robinson, 20th edition.
"CQR" is a good guide to the complex pricing structure of large and half cents. It also contains Robinson's advice for collectors. Note that the 20th edition is the final edition as CQR is no longer published. Previous editions are still available from: Jack Robinson, PO Box 430, Centreville, VA 20122. (703) 830-8865.