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High Grade Excelsior Copper, Eagle Facing Left

1787 COPPER New York Excelsior Copper, Eagle Left VF35 PCGS. Breen-980. Breen credits this pattern design to John Bailey, who helped engrave the similar eagle motif on the reverse of the legendary Brasher doubloons. According to Breen, only 15 to 20 survivors are known, "usually in low grades." The design parallels the arms of New York as found on that state's paper currency. In the center two female figures support a cartouche, atop which an eagle rests on a globe, in this case facing to the viewer's left, although specimens exist with the eagle facing right. Within the cartouche a sun rises behind mountains, with a sea in front. Below the cartouche is the Latin EXCELSIOR, meaning "higher" or "toward the heights." The female figures on either side represent Justice, who holds a scale balance in one hand and wears a blindfold, and Liberty, holding a staff atop which is the familiar pileus or liberty cap. On the reverse is an eagle similar to that on the better-known Brasher doubloons, with 13 stars floating above the eagle's head, E PLURIBUS UNUM, and the date 1787. An interesting design detail is the asymmetric separators flanking the date, with a French quatrefoil on one side and a highly American star on the other. This richly detailed piece has a well centered obverse, while the reverse is slightly off center toward 11 o'clock. The slightly granular dark walnut-brown fields complement the lighter mahogany devices. A generally unabraded example of this rare Early American piece, that most closely associated with the Brasher doubloons but considerably more affordable. Listed on page 52 of the 2005 Guide Book. (NGC ID# 2B3M, PCGS# 427)

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Auction Dates
January, 2006
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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