In the early years of the US Mint, the cent underwent many changes. There were four
major changes took place in the frist five years. Additionally, there were many minor
variations. The Draped Bust image on the cent and other coins gave a sense of stability
to U.S. coinage (lasting around 10 years.
Designer: John Reich
Denomination: One cent (1/100 dollar)
Diameter: 29 mm; plain edge
Metal Content: 100% copper
Weight: 10.89 grams
Mint Marks: None (all Philadelphia)
"Classic Head" One Cent
Totally unimpressed with this, in 1807 Mint Director wrote President Thomas Jefferson asking
permission to hire a German imigrant John Reich as assistant to the aging engraver Robert Scot.
Reichs was very shortly promoted to second engraver and given the assignment of redesigning
the coinage from the half cent to half eagle, essentially all US coinage.
The copper used in this period was of a higher quality, with much fewer metallic impurities
than usual. For this reason, they were softer and would wear and corrode more quickly than
issues before or since. As a result, high-grade specimens are particularly difficult to
obtain and command a much higher premium.
They also appear on market less frequently, especially with red or red-brown mint luster.
A shortage of planchets halted production in 1815, the Mint made no cents with that date. In 1816,
when production resumed, the cent bore Robert Scot's new and undistinguished "Matron Head" design.
The "Classic Head" name was not given the coin until the 1860's. It derives the name from the fillet
worn by Liberty on the obverse. A fillet on "Lady Liberty" seems a bit out of place since it was
worn only by male athletes in "the Classic Period" of ancient Greece.