Die Variety: Newcomb-7 represents the only use of these obverse and reverse dies in the production of the first year 1816 Matron Head cent. On the obverse, the tip of the first digit 1 in the date nearly lines up with the end of Liberty's bust, the letter Y in LIBERTY is low, the date is wide, and the second digit 1 in the date leans left. There is also a second line along the top of the coronet that begins above the letter B and extends to the end of the word LIBERTY. There is an extra dot along the top of the loop of the digit 6 in the date, but this due to a defective device punch, and all varieties of the 1816 cent use the same punch.
The reverse die of the 1816 N-7 variety is most readily identifiable by faint repunching at the bases of the letters ON in ONE and N in CENT.
Die State: An early die state example, both sides exhibit crisp detail throughout the denticulation. The extra dot at the top of the loop of the 6 on the obverse is still plainly evident, and faint clash marks are present in the reverse field both before and after the denomination ONE CENT.
Strike: The early die state discussed above confirms that this coin is generally well struck with sharp to full definition over virtually all elements of the design. The only exceptions are stars 3 through 9 on the obverse, which are flat and lack centrils -- a feature shared by the Noyes obverse plate coin for Die State A.
Surfaces: Vibrant with a satin to semi-prooflike finish, this coin has all that one should expect at the premium Gem grade level. Gorgeous golden-brown toning dominates the outward appearance, although closer inspection does reveal faint remnants of faded rose red luster in isolated field areas, especially on the obverse. There are no outwardly distracting or otherwise grade-limiting blemishes, and the overall quality is quite close to a Superb Gem rating. Even pedigree markers are elusive, yet closer inspection does reveal an extremely shallow obverse planchet void at the border above star 5.
Census Rankings: Noyes' EAC grade for this coin is MS-63 Choice, and he ranks the coin as tied for finest known in his census listing. Del Bland's grade is MS-65 with a ranking of finest known, and Bob Grellman grades the coin MS-64 in his cataloging for Part II of the "Ted" Naftzger Collection.
Pedigree: Benjamin H. Collins; B. Max Mehl, personal collection; T. James Clarke, 1954; Ira & Larry Goldberg's sale of the R. E. "Ted" Naftzger, Jr. Collection, Part II, February 2009, lot 12; Cardinal Collection.
Commentary: What a wonderful way to start the Matron Head series! Offered is one of the finest known of the variety and type, ideal for a specialized set or for a collection of different designs. The Matron Head nomenclature was invented a couple generations ago by Ken Bressett, then on the staff of the Guide Book of United States Coins, who was contemplating early design types that had no specific nickname or designation. This caught on and today the nomenclature is standard. Also, in recent years Ken Bressett has been editor of the Guide Book, succeeding the late Richard S. Yeoman.
Combined PCGS and NGC Population (all die varieties of the issue): just 4; and none are graded higher than MS-66 regardless of color designation.
From the Cardinal Collection Educational Foundation.