Thursday, December 29, 2011

An 1816 Matron Head large cent, Pierre L'Enfant, and the platting of Perrysburg, Ohio


I inadvertently skipped the year 1816 in my last posting showing an early U.S. coin matched with Northwest Ohio history.  So now, I'm posting a photo of a large cent from 1816.  This is the first year that this particular design appeared, and it is often referred to as the "Matron Head" large cent, since Lady Liberty looks a bit older and more matronly on this issue than on  previous types of large cents.  This coin is not perfect and has some minor patches of verdigris (light mineralization or corrosion in the copper) on the reverse, but it has some really nice eye appeal in its totally original (never cleaned) appearance and its dark mahogany and lighter reddish copper coloration... almost a "black and tan" two-tone look.  In the opinions of many early copper collectors, this look is very desirable, but of course this is subjective.  Matron Head large cents are historical, fun, and easy to collect due to their relative abundance and cheap prices, especially in lower grade conditions.
1816 Matron Head Large Cent obverse

1816 Matron Head Large Cent reverse

Plat of Perrysburg, Ohio, April 26, 1816
An interesting tie-in of this coin's year, 1816, to the Great Black Swamp region, is the platting of the town of Perrysburg, Ohio, by Pierre Charles L'Enfant.  In May and August of 1813, General William Henry Harrison held off the British and their Indian allies in two separate sieges of Fort Meigs, which is located just a few miles from present day Perrysburg.   In 1816, the U.S. government sent Pierre L'Enfant, the French-born American architect, civil engineer, and Revolutionary War combat veteran best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C., to plat (lay out) the town of Perrysburg, Ohio.  Perrysburg was therefore only the only town other than Washington, D.C. so created in the United States.  It was named in honor of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, who led an American naval force to victory over the British in 1813 in the Battle of Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay.

With the opening of the Northwest Territory to settlers, many settlers passed through the area around Perrysburg, crossing the Maumee river at the first opportunity upstream from Lake Erie, the ford at the Foot of the Rapids, and continuing their journeys north or west into the newly acquired lands of the expanding United States.  Since Perrysburg was located on the northern rim of the Great Black Swamp, which was nearly impassable until the swamp had been largely drained in the late 1800's, early transportation into and out of Perrysburg was essentially restricted to the Maumee River.  In time Perrysburg became a major lake port and shipbuilding center—second only to Cleveland and Buffalo in goods shipped.  As the Great Black Swamp was very gradually drained, huge forests of virgin timber became available and untold millions of board feet of logs and lumber sawed in Perrysburg were floated or shipped down river, across the lake and on to domestic and foreign markets. 

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