Die Variety: There are only two known die marriages of this issue, and they are readily distinguishable by looking at the spacing between the digit 3 in the date and star 13 on the obverse, as well as the position of the uppermost leaf in the reverse wreath relative to the closest letters in the legend. On Sheldon-293, as represented by the Cardinal Collection specimen, star 13 is close to the digit 3 in the date and the tip of the uppermost leaf is almost midway between the words STATES and OF. Although not usually designated as such, S-293 is actually an 1813/2 overdate, although traces of the underlying 2 are generally indistinguishable in all but the rare, earliest known die state, and then again only on high grade examples in AU and Mint State.
Die State: The presence of reverse die cracks through the tops of the letters TED in UNITED and ST in STATES, as well as through the bases of the letters TED and S, confirms the Breen Die State IV attribution. Other indicators of this late die state include flow lines along the upper reverse that join the tops of the letters TES OF A in the legend to the border, additional flow lines in other peripheral areas (including at star 1 on the obverse), and faint remnants of clash marks in the obverse field before Liberty's throat and in the reverse field after the denomination ONE CENT.
Strike: The advanced die state notwithstanding, this is an uncommonly well struck coin for a Classic cent with most devices sharply, if not fully defined. The only real exceptions are stars 5 to 7 on the obverse, the top of Liberty's head above the letters LIB in the word LIBERTY, the letters UNI in UNITED on the reverse, and the ribbon at the bottom of the wreath. All of these features are softly defined due to misalignment of the dies, a feature that affects most die states of this variety. Otherwise we note a nicely centered, well executed strike on both sides that includes at least discerning denticulation in most areas around the borders. Except where previously noted, the stars exhibit full radial lines, the details of Liberty's portrait are crisply delineated, the reverse wreath is fully defined, and the peripheral lettering on the reverse is sharp. The date is also razor sharp despite some microscopic flowlining in that area.
Surfaces: A fully Gem-quality piece, both sides are overall smooth and virtually devoid of even trivial abrasions. Dominant golden-brown toning is noted, although there is actually considerable rose red luster remaining in the protected areas around several of the peripheral devices, especially those along the lower obverse border. The amount of luster remaining is suggestive of a Red and Brown color designation and, indeed, our consignor notes that many experts who have viewed this coin felt that PCGS should have graded it MS-65 RB. A few light toning spots are scattered about, most of which are small in size, well concealed within the devices, or otherwise singularly inconspicuous to the eye. The only truly significant spot is located on the reverse at the letter C in CENT, and it will serve as useful pedigree marker.
Census Rankings: Impounded in the Warren Snow Collection for 60 years, this coin has never been seen by Bill Noyes, and thus is not listed in his census ranking. Del Bland, however, grades it MS-61 and ranks it as tied for CC#1 among known 1813 S-293 cents.
Pedigree: Dr. Ralph Chandler; Barney Bluestone's 104th Sale, December 1948, lot 22; our (Stack's) sale of the Warren Snow Collection, November 2008, lot 3062; Cardinal Collection.
Commentary: Three elements of numismatic desirability come together in this coin: Quality. Quality. Quality. Of course there are other elements as well, but the present coin neatly satisfies the preceding.
PCGS Population (both die varieties of the issue): just 2; and none are finer. NGC has not certified a single 1813 cent above MS-64 BN, and neither service has assigned an RB or RD designation to any coin.
From the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation.