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1825 cents in Randall Hoard unlikely

Sometimes it is the coins themselves and their numbers in certain grades that clear up any confusion. That is the case with the 1825 large cent as the numbers known today pretty well settle the matter of whether the 1825 was once found in some numbers in the famous Randall Hoard.

The 1825 large cent had a mintage of 1,461,100. Being the 1820s, we sometimes have doubts about official mintages but there seems to be no real dispute about the 1825. At the time that was actually on the low side for a large cent as in the 1820s mintages of 2-3 million were not unusual.

The confusing part of the 1825 story came when it was reported that the 1825 was part of the Randall Hoard, which is perhaps the most famous large cent hoard in history. The hoard was what was believed to be a small keg of large cents, generally uncirculated, found beneath a Georgia railroad platform shortly after the Civil War.

As usual, the facts are few but the stories many. When the hoard was actually hidden has been the topic of some debate and with good reason as the prime dates involved were 1816-1820. The story that they were hidden during the Civil War has a problem: Who at that time would have a keg of large cents nearly 40 years old to hide? The idea that the keg was hidden earlier seems to make more sense.

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In fact, the dates of the coins in the hoard have not always been the same in different accounts. Everyone can agree that a date like the 1818 was certainly in the hoard but some other dates have caused confusion. The 1825 is one of those dates and, to a lesser degree, so is the 1820. Part of the problem is that the hoard passed through a number of hands and coins were being sold all along the way.

In fact, there was a lot of controversy as the hoard was being dispersed with some suggesting that the coins were restrikes. John Swan Randall, for whom the hoard is named, responded to the restrike issue in a letter dated Jan. 7, 1870. He stated, “The bright, Uncirculated cents I have sold of 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820 and 1825 I am very sure are not re-strikes.”

Later, after Randall’s death in 1878, the remaining coins were sold. They were primarily 1817, 1818 and 1819. There were, however, 500 various dates that could have potentially included the 1825.

The problem with Randall’s suggestion that the 1825 was in the hoard is that the 1825 has been lacking in serious numbers in Mint State over the years. If the date was in the hoard as he suggested, there should be some evidence of that.

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Therein lies the rub as Q. David Bowers points out in his book, American Coin Treasures and Hoards: “An early citation indicates that some 1825-dated cents were included as well, but for a long time specialists (e.g., Walter Breen) considered this unlikely as Mint State cents of that date are very rare and have been for a long time.”

Things get more complicated as Breen would revise his thinking on the 1825 as well as other dates in the hoard in his 1988 Encyclopedia, where he states that he does believe the 1825 was a part of the hoard.

Today the 1825 is not priced as if it was in the hoard. It is $960 in MS-60, and that is well above the known hoard dates that tend to be $300 or less.

At Professional Coin Grading service, the 1825 has appeared in Mint State a total of just 22 times. The situation at Numismatic Guaranty Corporation is basically the same with the 1825 appearing in Mint State about a dozen times.

The results leave us with a conclusion that if examples of the 1825 were in the Randall Hoard, they were in very small numbers or were not uncirculated, as the coins simply are not showing up anywhere like the known Randall Hoard dates.

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