Reader Mail: Info on a “Jumbo Penny” and Other Specimens

jumbo penny chinese coins
I got a note this week from a friend of mine who started reading my new site here. He’s a fellow collector himself, but mainly of “graffiti dollars” only – like those bills you find in circulation with all kinds of writing/pictures/designs on them. He has a pretty cool collection of them here if you want to check them out:

Anyways, he asked me to look into a few coins for him, which of course I was more than excited to do :) Here’s what he said (the picture he included in the email is shown above):

“Congratulations! I enjoyed browsing your new site immensely… I don’t systematically collect coins, but I do hang on to anything unusual that crosses my path. Attached is a .jpg of 3 such specimens, including a jumbo U.S. penny from 1852. Any info will be welcome.”

Here was my response back:

Very cool coins!!

I’m afraid I haven’t been able to decipher Chinese/Asian coins all that well yet, but I would really love to be able to since I come across a lot of them myself (and even have a few). The World Coins book I have shows some being worth a ton, so it would be nice to be the one with the knowledge when coming across these things ;) No one ever knows if they’re valuable or not, so I reckon it would make for a smart thing to bone up on for some good deal scoring! If I ever dig into it, I’ll be sure to reach back out…

As for the 1852 “jumbo penny,” that I do know about! It’s what’s called a “large cent,” and that particular coin is a “Braided Hair” version which was produced from 1839-1857. There were a lot of them made back in the day of course since it was, and still is, a main part of daily commerce (the mintage run for this one in particular was a little over 5 million), but those that are still around in good condition can be worth quite the penny, if you’ll excuse my pun ;)

I looked it up in my Red Book (coin value book) to find out exactly how much, and depending on its grade it ranges from $19-$230. I’d say yours is maybe around $40-$50ish if I had to guess? I still haven’t mastered the “grading” part yet unfortunately as I’m still a newbie (that’s one of the most important variables), but it’s in decent condition considering it’s over 150 years old! It’s not all black and grimy like the ones I usually see, that’s for sure. Great coin!

UPDATE: I shot over a pic of the coin to a friend of mine who’s been collecting for 35+ years, and he put it around the “Extra Fine” mark stating it could even be higher but he’d have to physically inspect it first. This would put it in the $60+ range – so I wasn’t *too* far off!

1852 jumbo 1 cent us coin

I then asked where he came across such “specimens” as he calls them, and here’s what he said:

Many thanks for the details about my coins.  I have no idea where I got the Chinese specimens, but I clearly recall how I got the big penny. My father was a coin collector, and in settling his estate I was at a coin dealer’s with a spackle bucket full of pennies (heavyyy!), for which I was being paid by the pound. Somehow the big coin popped out of the ranks and I asked the dealer, what’s this? He said it was an old penny. U.S.? I examined it more closely. I asked, how much is it worth? About $3., he said. I figured I’d buy it from the estate for that and gave him the cash. Looks like for once I made an investment that didn’t go south, hehe.

I would agree :)

Want me to check out any of your coins? Shoot me over a note, along w/ picture if possible, and I’ll happily look into it for you. This stuff is fun for me :)


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