1793 Flowing Hair cent brings $142,000 to Bonhams auction

A 1793 Flowing Hair cent with wreath reverse has stormed to top spot in Bonhams' Medals, Bonds, Banknotes and Coins auction, which was held on July 17 in London.

1793 Flowing hair wreath cent
The wreath replaced Henry Voigt's unpopular chain design

The coin, in "good fine or better" condition, sold for £93,600 ($141,964). It is one of around 63,000 produced.

in 1793, the recently formed United States of America began producing its first official coinage on its own equipment and premises. This coin was the so-called Flowing Hair cent with a chain design on its reverse.

Just 36,103 of the coins were minted. However, the Henry Voigt design soon came under fire for its unattractive design, with the chains perceived to be an allusion to slavery.

The US Mint caved to public pressure and the director soon ordered Adam Eckfeldt to revise both the obverse and reverse designs. Liberty's hair was made longer and more flowing, while the chain was removed and replaced with a wreath.

Due to their low mintage and the fact that it is the nation's first regular federal issue, the chain cent is among the most valuable of US coins. In January 2012, an example sold through Heritage Auctions for $1.4m.

Bringing the second highest bids of the auction was a collection of late 19th and early 20th century issues from China, including coins from Kirin Province, Hu-Peh Province and Kang Nan Province. It sold for £19,800 ($30,030).

See our stunning selection of rare coins for sale.

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