The publicists are immediately upset. The reverse side that consists mainly of a circle of fifteen links symbolizing the unity of the states is interpreted as a slave chain.
This chain symbol was not new, but its presentation to the general public prohibited any risk of political misunderstanding. However, we must admit that the designer was not skillful. The confidential testing of the Continental Dollar in 1776 had included the ability to fill the circle with a motto or a heraldic figure, and its dotted round links were soft. With its aggressive oval links, the chain cent was really unacceptable.
The Philadelphia Mint immediately appreciated the blunder. The chain cent was used during twelve days which were enough to wear the fragile dies already produced in this variant and to prepare its successor, the wreath cent whose elegant plant motif was unassailable.
Mint records indicate the release of 36,103 chain cents. The wreath cent, which was only a transition model designed for this situation of emergency, was produced in only 63,353 units.
The disgust inspired by the chain cent contributes greatly to the fact that some units were not handled and are still intact, which is not the case for the best wreath cents. The Eliasberg specimen of chain cent, graded MS65 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1,38M including premium by Heritage on 4 January 2012.
Another of the best chain cents had not appeared at public auction since 1890. It is for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 7, lot 4011, graded MS66 by PCGS just above the grade of the Eliasberg specimen. This piece is remarkable for its bold strike and perfect readability uncommon in old copper coins.