How Much Are Classic Head Large Cents (1808-1814) Worth Today?

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By Joshua

Classic Head large cents, which were struck from 1808 through 1814, are rare pennies that are worth much more than face value.

Some Classic Head large cents are worth thousands of dollars. Learn the history and value of Classic Head large cents... and see which Classic Head pennies are the most valuable!

In fact, Classic Head large cents are generally worth hundreds of dollars, if not thousands!

In this article, we are going to delve into the history of these coins and reveal how much Classic Head large cents are worth today.

History Of Classic Head Large Cents

When the first Classic Head large cents rolled in during 1808, the United States Mint had already been in existence for more than 15 years — building a nice resume of coins in that time.

As for one-cent coins (pennies, as most would say), the U.S. Mint had produced the Flowing Hair, Liberty Cap, and Draped Bust pennies — all of which were still circulating in 1808.

During the early 19th century, there were very few people in the United States who would’ve considered themselves coin collectors in the formal sense. Perhaps there were many folks who were saving or hoarding coins, but they weren’t necessarily doing this to preserve examples of each coin the U.S. Mint was producing.

However, it’s because there were people who had saved these early coins in one form or fashion or another that we have examples for coin collectors and historians to enjoy today!

And in 1808, there were still many of the old pennies in circulation. The large cent family grew larger by one with the release of the Classic Head, designed by John Reich.

The Classic Head large cents were struck every year through 1814, and all of them are pretty scarce today — even in worn condition.

What happened in 1815?

Many will point to a fire at the Philadelphia Mint — but that incident didn’t occur until January 1816. The outbreak of the War of 1812 led to a huge shortage of copper planchets (coin blanks), which were manufactured in and shipped from Great Britain. The shortage continued into 1815 — though by the end of that year, production of large cents had begun again.

The question that has plagued numismatic scholars for years is determining if the large cents made in the final months of 1815 were Classic Head large cents dated 1814 (because the U.S. Mint frequently used old dies back during its early days) or Coronet Head large cents dated 1816.

We may never know… But all we know for sure is that there are no large cents or pennies dated 1815.

Classic Head Large Cent Values

The Classic Head large cents are a fairly straightforward series to collect — with only 7 dates inclusive (1808, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, and 1814).

However, things get trickier when adding in the varieties, and there are several for this run of valuable old pennies!

Varieties are minor variations of the design that are both distinct and collectible. And large cents from the 1793 through 1814 period are rife with lots of rare, valuable, and collectible varieties!

Here are the current Classic Head large cent values (including those for the major varieties):

  • 1808 — $150+
  • 1809 — $300+
  • 1810 — $150+
  • 1810/09 — $140+
  • 1811 — $250+
  • 1811/0 — $375+
  • 1812 Small Date — $125+
  • 1812 Large Date — $115+
  • 1813 — $125+
  • 1814 Plain 4 — $130+
  • 1814 Crosslet 4 — $150+

*These are typical retail values for Classic Head large cents graded Good-4 or better with no damage, including no cleanings, no holes, no major scratches, and no significant nicks, dings, or other imperfections. You might be offered lower prices if you were to sell these same coins to a coin dealer, who would usually purchase coins at prices around wholesale levels.

What Are The Most Valuable Classic Head Large Cents?

While the values of Classic Head large cents listed above are typical prices for the more well-worn specimens in Good or better circulated grades, values for these old pennies are worth much more in uncirculated condition.

In fact, most uncirculated Classic Head large cents have a value of around $8,000 to $10,000 apiece — at a minimum. But that’s nothing compared to what some of the most valuable large cents in this series are worth.

Consider, for example, the 1811 Classic Head large cent. An example graded Mint State-65 Red by Professional Coin Grading Service sold for an astounding $493,500 in a 2017 auction. That’s nearly a half million dollars — for an 1811 penny!

Some of the other valuable Classic Head pennies include:

Bear in mind, these prices are from public auction records. There may have been other valuable Classic Head large cents that have traded for much more than these figures in private transactions. But this is a good sampling of what these rare pennies are worth.