Large Cent varieties

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by BostonCoins, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. BostonCoins

    BostonCoins Active Member

    Hello all.

    My coin 'obsession' as of late has been more about the Large Cents. I've always admired them from afar, but always considered them 'out of reach' for me due to their price, and varied rarity.

    I've since found many sites that sell these largies at more than affordable prices. Like a drug, that has led me down a road where i've been purchasing them like crazy. Granted, I can't afford the high grade versions, even still, I love collecting them.

    One of the sites I purchase them from, the person is as close to an expert on the subject as I could ever hope to find. For those of you in the Large Cent world, you may know him. His name is Tom Deck. I'm not sure if i'm allowed to put his web site address up here or not, so I'll be cautious and not do it.

    ANYHOW.... what I was wondering is I've been LOOKING and LOOKING to get a copy of Penny Whimsy by Sheldon that identifies early varieties of the large cents. I have no doubt that I could purchase it from the store, but where they can be $60.00 and up, I figured I'd give the internet a shot first to see if I could find an "E-Book" or PDF version.

    I haven't found ANY. Does anyone have an electronic version of this book, or a link I could use?

    Thanks in advance!

    Some of my coins:

    1798 Large Cent.jpg
    Large Cent Purchase (2).jpg
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  3. dsmith23

    dsmith23 Gotta get 'em all

    I'd go ahead and get the book, that $60 dollars spent on it, will be worth more then you could spend on a large cent.

    Read this thread, especially the post I linked to by Doug.
  4. Hunt1

    Hunt1 Active Member

    You can get some really nice MS large cents for under $200, you just have to be at the right place or website at the right time.
  5. kookoox10

    kookoox10 ANA #3168546

    You just missed one that sold for $20 over the weekend on the bay. But anywho, if you're going to get a copy, shoot for the 3rd edition. It's updated but not overhauled like the 4th edition is, that one is kinda watered down.
  6. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    Nice collection!
  7. camlov2

    camlov2 Member

    Love the coins, my favorites as well. abebooks has the book used for about half that price.
  8. Marshall

    Marshall Junior Member

    While I strongly advise you to get Penney Whimsey for it's descriptions, I recommend you also keep these sites bookmarked because they show all the varieties (except one gold replica) along with many major die states in the Holmes Collection sold in 2009 which includes a few varieties not in Sheldon or even in the 2000 Breen Encyclopedia.

    ps I'd also recommend joining and learning to use the archives of Heritage Auctions. The information in the descriptions is also very informative and often more current than the references.
  9. beef1020

    beef1020 Junior Member

    I don't know of an online version of the Sheldon book, sorry. I wanted to point out if you were not aware, large cents are broken down into early (1793-1814), middle (1816-1839), and late (1840-1857). As far as I know no book covers all of these. Dennis Loring wrote a guide to early date books about 15 years ago which is still pretty useful:

    I would add that since this was written the Breen Encyclopedia of early cents has come out and it is a fantastic update to Sheldon, Breen was a co-author of Penny Whimsy. It has updated rarity, conditional census, and die state information in addition to renumbering the varieties based on updated variety sequences, i.e. S91 was probably the first 96 liberty cap struck as the reverse is closer to S81 so I believe Breen listed this first while Sheldon listed it last. Lastly, in regard to the above link there have been multiple important collections sold since 1995 with great auction catalogues which I consider a must, Marshall pointed you to a couple but there are many more. One of those is the Husak early dates which does have a PDF available online:

    If I had to choose one book for each series I would do:

    Breen - early dates, this may be out of print but you can pick them up from dealers or on ebay for around $80 and it's worth every penny
    Wright's The Cent Book - middle dates, I find this book much easier to use for attribution the Noyes although Noyes is a good reference, again around $80 used and worth the money
    Grellman - late dates, realistically this is the only option as no other reference comes close to completeness or is as easy to use. Rarely seen used and the handful of used copies I have watched on ebay actually sold for more then you can buy them from the author for.
    Copper quotes by Robinson - NECESSARY if you foresee yourself getting involved in large cent as it is the price guide used by all most serious large cent collectors and dealers.

    Lastly, not only will these books maintain their value pretty well, but they will more than pay for themselves in the value gained from the knowledge. The Grellman book alone has paid for itself many times over in cherry picks. T to give just one example an 1851 N40 in vf25 books at $550 while a common 1851 in vf20 books for around $50. So while $350 is a lot to spend on those 4 books I mentioned they will quickly pay for themselves.

    Congrats on becoming an addict, I would strongly recommend joining the Early American Copper club as well!!!
  10. largecent37

    largecent37 Coin Collector

    I too love large cents (hence my username) :) I have a small budget and really like coins like yours.
  11. kookoox10

    kookoox10 ANA #3168546

    These guys make valid points, there's a reason Penny Whimsey is so dang expensive. They're not going to make files of this online for just anyone to have, this is privileged info that they'll make you pay for. Another good resource is to check out EACS, Tom Deck's site, Tom Reynold's site and look at their Sheldon and Newcomb attributed pieces for sale. They usually have good descriptions on those coins about what makes them unique, it's a part of the sales pitch.
  12. BostonCoins

    BostonCoins Active Member

    Thanks for the insight everyone. Some very useful links there too.

    Seems like I really just should 'bite the bullet' and purchase the books. I've been pondering this for a little while now.

    I've been reading Tom Deck's site a lot to learn varieties. I have also use CoinFacts, Heritage Auctions, and other sites like this to learn more about Large Cents, but would love to learn more.

    Now.... to find one of these books. I wonder if you can find them in my local book store? Hmmm....

    Thanks everyone!
  13. mark_h

    mark_h Somewhere over the rainbow

    Nice start to the collection. And yeah I would get Penny Whimsy if you ever hope to attribute it. Lately on occasions I search amazon for electronic copies of stuff for my kindle. I do have books to cover the entire range and some catelogs from the larger collection sales that can be helpful also.
  14. beef1020

    beef1020 Junior Member

    You may be able to find Penny Whimsy in a used book store, but it would be very unlikely. Most of the large cent books are self published and only really available from specialist dealers or the author.
  15. kookoox10

    kookoox10 ANA #3168546

    Hey Boston, I usually frequent used bookstores here in the bay area. I'll keep my eyes peeled for one and I'll let you. I have one already, so I wouldn't need a second one.
  16. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Penny Whimsy is a great book. A bit of advice though, DON'T buy a 1990 edition unless you can get it very cheap. The only think you can use it for are the written descriptions, the plates are worthless unless you like looking at black circles. My personal favorites are the 1958 and 1965 editions.

    For actual attributing of the early dates though I would now have to recommend the Breen Encyclopedia of Early United States Cents 1793 - 1814. Descriptions are good and the images are larger.

    The disadvantage of Breen is that the book is so large it can't be conveniently carried with you to shows or coin shops. Sheldon is a nice small easily handled volume.

    Third edition, fourth edition? Are you sure you aren't thinking of Overton? There have only been three editions of Sheldons book. The original was Early American Cents published in 1949. The first revision was Penny Whimsy published in 1958 with two reprintings in 1965, one in 1976, and one in 1981. Then the last revision in 1990 with the addition in the back of all the new varieties discovered since 1958, all reproduced as totally useless enlarged black circles. The 1990 edition also has two printings, one with a light tan leatherette binding and the othe with a dark brown leatherette binding. Image reproduction in the second printing is marginally better but still not acceptable.

    If it wasn't for the cost United States Early Date Large Cents 1793 - 1814 by Bill Noyes would be a good choice since it has the large images like Breen, but much of the text has been lifted directly from Sheldon. Problem is it can only be purchased as part of a two volume set, early and middle dates, at a cost of over $250. Used copies seldom come on the market.

    If you do some looking online there is a used 1965 edition of Penny Whimsy available right now for $28.50 at and a second copy at $30 can be found on abesbooks. They also have a copy at $40 and copies of the 1958 edition at $45 and $50.

    I would not be surprised if an ebook version didn't come out eventually because I believe the book is out of copyright. (If it isn't them the rights are held by EAC. I know awhile back after Sheldon's death and after the 1990 edition came out the rights were transfered to the Early American Coppers club.
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