Early in the war of 1812 supplies of copper planchets from the English manufacturer,
Boulton & Watt of Liverpool stopped, and by 1814 the last of the imported copper blanks
had been turned into "Classic Head" cents.
With no copper Planchets available in 1815, the idle time proved to be very useful. The Mint had
been criticized since it struck its first coins in 1793. The Classic Head cent was no exception,
critics were quick to point out that the fillet on "Lady Liberty's" head had never been worn
by women but was given as a prize to male athletes in Classical times. The down time was
used to update mint equipment and processes as well as redesigning the cent. This allowed
greater uniformity in coinage.
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)
"Matron Head" One Cent
Matron Head / Braided Hair example
1817 Large Cent 15 Star
Wishing to avoid further embarrassment with the new design, Mint officials bypassed
Assistant Engraver John Reich (who had created the Classic Head) and assigned redesign
of the cent to Scot. While Scot's creation was a terrible failure from an artistic
stand point, there was no doubt of Libertys gender. The fillet holding the hair back
was replaced with coronet. The redesign also enlarged the obverse portrait, giving
Liberty a much more mature look. While the correct name for the design was the "Coronet"
cent, many people call it the "Matron Head" cent.
The reverse was essentially unchanged and retained the "Christmas wreath" of Reich's 1808 design.