1864 L on Ribbon Cent, PR64 Red and Brown
1864 1C L On Ribbon PR64 Red and Brown PCGS. Snow-PR2. The
1864 L on Ribbon proof is one of the classic rarities in the U.S.
cent series. Only 20 examples are believed struck, represented by
three known die marriages. The fascinating history of these pieces
is outlined in Rick Snow's Flying Eagle and Indian Cent
Attribution Guide, Vol. 2: 1859-1869.
Snow-PR2 Die Pair, 10 Pieces Known
This coin is toned in rich purple-brown shades with areas of golden-tinged luster showing in the more protected areas. The surfaces are nearly perfect in terms of contact marks. Certified in a PCGS green-label holder, this coin is a problem-free example with great eye appeal, an important rarity within the Indian cent series.
The Snow-PR2 die pair is characterized by the long obverse diagonal die mark on Liberty's neck, at the rear crease of the jawline under the ear. A couple of prominent die lines on the reverse run diagonally upward from two outside-left olive leaf tips at 8 o'clock toward the rim.
Ten examples of the 1864 L on Ribbon cent constituted the initial delivery, coins either held as die trials or randomly sold to collectors. Mint officials likely considered the added initial to be a minor change unworthy of special consideration. Only a few years later did the existence of these proofs become known, by which time they were unavailable to advanced collectors. When Henry Linderman took office as Mint director, the proof 1864 L on Ribbon cent had become hotly desired numismatic items. During Linderman's first term (1867-1869) and continuing for years thereafter, various numismatic delicacies were restruck at the Mint. The coins restruck during the Linderman period are among the most sought-after coins in U.S. numismatics.
Ten more 1864 L on Ribbon proofs were struck sometime around 1871. Rick Snow is credited with the discovery by matching the reverse die of the present example with the regular-issue proof dies of that year. 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 cents 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 Snow identified a third die pair, when a unique specimen was offered in Bowers and Merena's Pennsylvania Estate sale. That PR64 Red PCGS piece set a record price for the time for any small cent when it sold in our Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 6/2002), lot 5202, for $138,000. Population: 2 in 64 Red and Brown, 5 finer (12/13).
Ex: Farish Baldenhofer (Stack's, 11/1955), lot 214; Swedish ambassador; Swedish Embassy; Harlan White; House of Stewart (1979); Larry Whitlow (1992); private collection; Superior (6/1994), lot 163; Eagle Eye Rare Coins (1994); Texas collection; Eagle Eye Rare Coins (1997); Joseph P. Gorrell Collection / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2003), lot 4480, brought $52,900; Lloyd Mincy; Baltimore ANA Signature (Heritage, 7/2008), realized $63,250.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 229G, PCGS# 2280)
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