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Rare 1787 New York Excelsior Copper, VF25
Whitman 5780, Eagle Right

1787 COPPER New York Excelsior Copper, Eagle Right VF25 NGC. W-5780, Breen-979, High R.6. On February 11, 1787, metalsmiths John Bailey and Ephraim Brasher petitioned the New York State legislature for franchises to manufacture copper coins. It has been speculated that the two petitions were submitted together, speaking to a partnership between the two makers (who were neighbors), though this theory has not been proven. However, Breen suggests the similarity of Bailey and Brasher's 1787 New York pattern pieces (likely submitted with the franchise petitions), all punch-linked to Bailey's "running horse" Jersey coppers of the following year, suggesting the two makers were closely associated. These patterns are broken up into two classes: Brasher's Doubloons and Bailey's Excelsior coppers (the Nova Eborac coppers were produced in quantity and are not considered patterns).

The Excelsior coppers depict the New York arms on the obverse, with the state motto EXCELSIOR, "More excellent, more noble," below, while a modified rendering of the United States arms is represented on the reverse, surrounded by the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. A similar rendering of the New York arms is seen on the reverse of James Atlee's standing-Indian copper pattern of the same year, though the two designers are not believed to have been in collaboration. Rather, Breen suggests this coincidence is possibly the result of both Bailey and Atlee copying Peter Maverick's engraving of the New York arms on the then-current New York paper currency.

Bowers lists six varieties of the Excelsior copper, all of which are rare, though Breen attributes only three of them to Bailey (and possibly Brasher). This piece represents the right-facing eagle variant, of which Breen estimates only 10 to 12 pieces are extant (though a few more have likely surfaced since that writing). Light wear is seen over both sides, though the main design elements are bold. The surfaces display attractive two-toned patina, with deep burgundy-brown in the fields and warm reddish-brown on the high points. A loupe reveals some faint granularity in the recesses, though it is not apparent to the unaided eye, and the overall preservation is exceptional for the issue. This is the only example certified by NGC, and PCGS has graded only an additional seven in all grades (4/14).
Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. (NGC ID# B8E3, PCGS# 424)

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Auction Dates
May, 2014
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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