Large Cents: See The Value Of Large Cent Coins From 1793 To 1857

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy thru these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

large-cent-coinDo you know what a large cent is?

Many people don’t.

When some people find out just what a large cent is, they are likely to do a double-take, as they can’t imagine having to carry too many around in their pocket!

What are large cents and why are they so sought after?


What Are Large Cents?

In 1793, among the very first coins the United States Mint ever struck was a one-cent coin.

But the “pennies” of yesterday were not like the pennies of today.

These early pennies were nearly the size of today’s half dollar. Large cents range in size from 27-29 millimeters.

Until 1857, the United States Mint produced these large-size pennies, usually referred to in the coin collecting world as “large cents.”


Many Designs For Large Cents

Large cents have been struck bearing several different designs. There were a number of intentional design changes to large cents over the years.

One of the main factors that contributes to numerous minor varieties among the oldest of U.S. coins is the hand-involvement that was responsible for many aspects of coin production.

In all, there are dozens of design and variety combinations among the large cents.

Coin collectors have been enthusiastically collecting large cents since the 19th century. Large cents have continued to maintain a strong popularity among many numismatists to this day.


Large Cents Values

Here are the basic designs and their “type” values (the lowest price ranges for an example coin of a particular design).

Retail prices are current as of September 2008 according to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

Low-end prices are for About-Good-3 coins; high end are for Mint-State-65 for all 1793 and 1794-1796 cents. For Draped Bust large cents and after, prices range from the low end of Good-4 to Mint-State-65.

  • 1793 Chain Large Cent ($4,750-$450,000)
  • 1793 Wreath Large Cent ($1,350-$275,000)
  • 1793 Liberty Cap Large Cent ($3,700-$785,000)
  • 1794-1796 Liberty Cap with Denticled Border Large Cent ($200-$110,000)
  • 1796-1807 Draped Bust Large Cent ($68-$35,000)
  • 1808-1814 Classic Head Large Cent ($58-$30,000)
  • 1816-1839 Coronet Head Large Cent ($26-$1,500)
  • 1839-1857 Braided Hair Large Cent ($24-$875)

Again, these are retail prices for the lowest-priced, most common dates for each design. Coins of particularly nice quality will be worth more, and damaged coins will be worth less. Scarcer coins will be worth more.


Large Cents Replaced

As the value of the cent decreased, so did the public’s tolerance for carrying around pockets and purses full of these heavy, large cents.

In 1856, the U.S. Mint struck the first pennies of the current 19-millimeter size.

By 1857, the large cent was phased out and, eventually faded away from circulation.


More About Large Cents

There are many great resources for finding out more about large cents:

Don’t miss our latest tips!

Stay up to date with everything about U.S Coins

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy

4 thoughts on “Large Cents: See The Value Of Large Cent Coins From 1793 To 1857”

    • Hi, Eric —

      A United States large cent made in 1842 in the grade of VF is worth about 25 to $30, assuming it has no corrosion or other signs of damage.

  1. Hi Joshua,
    Recently we found an 1802 Liberty Half Cent a 50/100..? that I believe is from the Thomas Jefferson Presidency Era..? And was just wondering what its worth? Now I’d say its in non-circulated condition at the very least to possibly…I think I believe its called, gem uncirculated and maybe even the one above that possibly as it was found in my families old estate Historic reg.’d home here in Cincinnati Ohio originally built in 1768 and is currently owned and has always been in our family since its inception and build. We found it inside and under the dummy waiter bottom’s shaft on it’s most bottom floor in about an inch and a half of dust and dirt build up. It look as if it was never even touched at all just the normal darkening of the copper from being as old as it is of course…have you any clue to its possible value? Thanks! -Casey W. Rockenstein

    • Hi, Casey!

      The best way for me to ascertain its approximate value is to see a photo of the coin. Wear, coloration, and overall surface quality are the key factors to value. It sounds like your coin could tell a great story if it could talk!



Leave a Comment