These grand old coins come from the very early days of US cent coinage. They are in good, valuable, company:
1793: Wreath cent, click here
1973 to 1796: Liberty cap cent, this page
1796 to 1807: Draped bust cent, click here
Like its wreath and bust counterparts, liberty cap cents are very valuable, even in worn condition. Damage, not wear, renders these coins to low value. See our Terminology for a discussion of damaged coins.
The coin in our picture comes from a long-time coin dealer, Fox Valley Coins & Diamonds in Kimberly, Wisconsin. Fox Valley's coin would likely sell retail around the $1000 US dollar mark. The coin has a few small bumps and bruises on the reverse, but the obverse (the 'heads' side) is gorgeous. The design features are very apparent and the surface is unmarred. Even with the wear shown, we are still talking a $1000 coin.
As always, more wear lowers value and less wear raises value. Damage, as mentioned above, reduces value to almost zero. Remember that a retail price of $1000 would generally translate to a wholesale price, i.e., what an honest dealer would pay, of $400 to $600. The mark-up keeps the dealership afloat.
These kind of coins get the juices flowing in many US collectors. There is an organization specializing in early american coppers called (what else?) Early American Coppers. At EAC you will find many knowledgable numismatists (coin collections) who know an understand the many subtle variations in these coins. Our $1000 ballpark figure is very inaccurate, since the variations cause value fluctuations both higher and lower.
As with all valuable coins, you must be aware that counterfeits exist and that you should
NEVER CLEAN A COIN. CLEANING RUINS VALUE.
If you have a genuine coin, you should consider taking steps to protect it. To do this, consult PGCS, NGC, ICG, or ANACS. Look them up on the Internet. Do not use other services.
CoinQuest thanks Fox Valley for use of their coin photo. It is a beauty.