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Prized 1858 Small Letters Flying Eagle Cent
PR66, Estimated Mintage of 200 Pieces

1858 1C Small Letters PR66 NGC. Snow-PR4. The 1858 Small Letters Flying Eagle cents are a one-year subtype, featuring an obverse style that was first used extensively on the pattern small cent coinage of 1858 that preceded the regular issues. Although the Small Letters style with AM in AMERICA separated is the most obvious difference, there are others as well. Snow suggests in his series Guide Book that the Small Letters was initially a pattern design that was found acceptable, and accordingly used alongside the Large Letters-style dies at the beginning of the year.
While the Small Letters business strikes are prized, the Small Letters proofs are vastly rarer, with an estimated mintage currently given at 200 coins. Precious few of those coins survive today in the state of preservation of the current Premium Gem proof. The dies are characterized by the Type Three reverse (Low Leaves, Open E in ONE) that has the denomination strengthened using a Type One denomination punch (E nearly closed), making this a Closed E/Open E reverse type that appears as minor doubling. The Small Letters obverse die (the Large Letters proofs are paired only with the High Leaves reverse) shows numerous parallel apparent die polishing marks through the date area. (Rick Snow's Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Attribution Guide, second edition, volume I has excellent photos of these effects on page 80.)
This extremely rare proof striking is almost never seen in such a superior state of preservation. In fact, NGC has certified only three other coins in PR66, with none finer, while the finest at PCGS are a handful of PR65 pieces (2/10). The fields are deeply mirrored, and the reverse shows evidence of heavy die polishing with slightly attenuated letters in the center. The bright golden-honey surfaces show occasional specks of deep rose patina, all of which add considerable eye appeal to this rare proof issue.
Ex: Long Beach Signature (6/2002), lot 5128, which realized $24,150. (Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 227D, PCGS# 2043)

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Auction Dates
March, 2010
24th-28th Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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