Important 1864 L on Ribbon Indian Cent PR64 Red and Brown1864 1C L On Ribbon PR64 Red and Brown NGC. PR-2. Ex: Richmond Collection. A moderately mirrored specimen with liberal amounts of mottled coppery-orange, magenta, and steel-blue toning across the center of the obverse. Somewhat lighter in color, the reverse is accented in pale russet hues. A few scattered remnants of carbon are noted here and there.
The 1864 L on Ribbon proof is one of the premier rarities in the Indian Cent series. Only 20 specimens are believed to have been struck, just 18 of which are traced today. The fascinating history of these pieces can be found in Rick Snow's book "The Flying Eagle and Indian Cent Attribution Guide, Vol. 2: 1859-1869."
There is an obverse die file mark on Liberty's neck near the back of the jaw that matches the diagnostics given by Walter Breen in the 1977 book Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins: 1722-1977. Since that time additional discoveries have been made which shed new light on this enigmatic issue, as well as on much of the activity of Mint personnel in the years following the Civil War.
The initial proof delivery of the 1864 L on Ribbon Cent is recorded as being a mere ten pieces. These coins were either held as die trials or sold to collectors in a random manner. Mint officials probably considered the addition of Longacre's initial to be a minor change that was not worthy of special consideration. It was not until a few years later that the existence of these proofs became known, by which time the advanced collectors who desired examples could not locate the coins. When Henry Linderman began his first term as Mint Director in 1867, the proof 1864 L on Ribbon Cent had already become a hotly desired numismatic item. During Linderman's first term (1867-1869), and continuing for a few years thereafter, many numismatic delicacies were restruck at the Mint. Far from being considered a pariah, the coins restruck during the "Linderman" period are some of the most sought after coins in all of U.S. numismatics!
Ten additional 1864 L on Ribbon proofs were struck sometime around 1871. The unique die lines on the reverse are the same as on proofs from 1869 through 1871, although the 1869 and 1870 proofs were struck from earlier die states.
Virtually nothing was known about the proof 1864 L on Ribbon Cent until the 1977 publication of Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins: 1722-1977. Breen identified the coins with the die diagnostics of the present specimen as the only true proofs. This created a dilemma for the owners and sellers of the other proof examples. Most catalogers described the proofs that did not match Breen's diagnostics as copper die trials, or they conveniently overlooked Breen's research. It was not until the Bowers and Merena Higgins Sale of 1984 that Breen relented and proclaimed that there was a second die pair for the proof 1864 L on Ribbon. In 1997, Rick Snow identified a third die pair when a unique specimen was offered in Bowers and Merena's Pennsylvania Estate Sale. That coin was last sold as lot 5202 in Heritage's June 2002 Long Beach Signature Sale, where it realized a record price for a small Cent: $138,000.
Only ten examples of the 1864 L on Ribbon PR-2 Indian Cent are known, the census reading as follows::
1. Ex: Norweb Collection; Norweb Collection Sale (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 156. PR65 Red NGC.
2. Ex: Blevens and Bodway Collections Sale (Superior, 6/1988), lot 4077. PR64 Red PCGS.
3. Ex: Floyd Starr Collection; Floyd Starr Collection Sale (Stack's, 10/1992), lot 657. PR65 Red and Brown PCGS.
4. Ex: Farish-Baldenhoffer Sale (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 214; Swedish Ambassador; Swedish Embassy; Harlan White; House of Stewart (1979); Larry Whitlow (1992) Private collection; Superior's sale of 6/1994, lot 163; Eagle Eye Rare Coins (1994); Texas collection; Eagle Eye Rare Coins (1997); Joseph P. Gorrell Collection. PR64 Red and Brown PCGS. The present example.
5. Ex: Superior's sale of 10/1995, lot 38 (as a PR63 Red and Brown PCGS). Currently PR64 Red and Brown PCGS.
6. Ex: East Coast collection, said to have been acquired in the 1950s. PR64 Red and Brown NGC.
7. Ex: Dr. J. Hewitt Judd Collection; Willing Sale (Bowers and Ruddy, 6/1976), lot 1387; Dr. Stanley Spurgeon. PR64 Red and Brown PCGS.
8. Ex: Lester Merkin; Auction '90 (Stack's, 8/1990), lot 46. Grade unknown. The plate coin in the book Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins: 1722-1977.
9. Ex: Jay Sale (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 434; Scanlon Sale (Stack's, 10/1973), lot 158; Dr. Coles Collection; Stack's sale of 10/1987), lot 1139; Auction '88 (Superior, 7/1988), lot 24. PR64 Red and Brown NGC.
10. Ex: FUN Sale (Mid-American, 1/1986), lot 429. PR64 Brown NGC.(#2280)(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 229G, PCGS# 2280)
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