The Story of the
1794 Large Cent!

By Jim Vokes

A few years ago, I was detecting a "ghost town" site here in central New York.  The town was established in 1831 and disappeared by 1855 when the railroad came to another nearby village.  The area is now mostly a few farm fields and one remaining house.

After detecting one field which had been heavily hunted without finding much, I noticed a hay field that I had not  hunted previously.  After obtaining permission to hunt this field, I proceeded to attempt to swing my Explorer through the foot high hay with some difficulty.

After locating a couple of colonial buttons, I slowed my pace down considerably and suddenly got that high "Explorer Coin" sound.  Knowing that I was in a potentially great location, I very gently dug and carefully removed the plug.   My probe told me that the target was still in the ground, which is always a great sign.  Gently digging deeper, suddenly I held a very dirty copper disc in my trembling fingers.

Gently rubbing just the "date" area,  I let out a shout when I saw 1794!  My thoughts quickly turned to who could have lost this coin and what they were doing at the time:   A hard working farmer, his oft working wife or perhaps one of his children playing in the yard?  It was probably a significant loss to them as money was scarce and bartering was more often the currency for these folks. I carefully wrapped my "treasure" in my kerchief, put it away and continued detecting.  However, I was so excited that I just couldn't hunt any more that day!

Upon returning home, I washed the coin lightly and then cleaned it using the Hydrogen Peroxide method.  I discovered it was indeed a 1794 large cent.  1794 was only the second year that the United States had begun to mint coinage.  My coin had actually been minted when our First President, George Washington, was alive!

This coin remains my prize coin among many great finds over the years.