Copper was cheap enough at one time that our United States Cents
were, by our standards, fairly huge. They were larger than a modern
Quarter Dollar! Collectors call these cents Large Cents
as a generic term to separate them from the later Small
Cents. As industrialization developed, the value of metals grew
until the 1850s when a cent had almost more value in copper than it
did buying power as a coin. This is what caused the change in size.
Sometimes we dont like to think about it but making coins is
one way governments make money and they cannot give us a coin where
the value of the metal exceeds the face value of the coin. There are
several types of Large Cents; the Liberty Cap Type (1793-96), Draped
Bust Type (1796-1807), Classic Head Type (1808-14) and Coronet Head
Good reference works for those more interested in this type of coin are The Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins by Walter Breen or a specialized work such as The Cent Book: 1816-1839 by John D Wright.
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