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1864 1C L On Ribbon PR66 Brown PCGS Secure. CAC. Snow-PR1....

2013 September 25 - 29 US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach #1189

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Auction Ended On: Sep 27, 2013
Item Activity: 7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Long Beach Convention Center
100 S. Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802

1864 Indian Cent, PR66 Brown
Rare L On Ribbon Variant
Snow-PR1 Original
1864 1C L On Ribbon PR66 Brown PCGS Secure. CAC. Snow-PR1. For many years it was thought that just 20 proof 1864-L Indian cents were coined. Today, 20 different examples are identified, causing researchers to believe a few more may have been struck. A roster of 18 pieces appears in The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide, 2nd Edition, Volume 2, 1859-1869, by Richard E. Snow. "The Fly-In Club" published that reference in 2003. In addition to those, Superior offered an example of PR1 in their January 2005 sale. The present piece matches none of the others, bringing the current population to 20 coins.

Remarkably, three different die pairs are known for the 20 coins, a situation akin to three known die pairs for the 1867 With Rays proof nickels. The Snow-PR2 variety, identified by a long die line below the ear, is now considered a restrike and represents about half of the known pieces. They were probably coined in the early 1870s, as the 1864 L On Ribbon cent had become well-known and in demand by 1869. Snow-PR1 (nine known) and Snow PR3 (unique) are now thought to be originals, actually struck in 1864. Perhaps the estimated mintage of 20 proofs in 1864 is still accurate, with an additional 20 or so coins minted a decade later.

An early auction appearance of the 1864 L on Ribbon Indian cent occurred in lot 1141 of the Frederick W. Geiss Sale (B. Max Mehl, 2/1947):

"The Excessively Rare 1864 Bronze Cent with L in PROOF
Lot No. 1142
1864 Bronze Cent with L on ribbon. (The L is for Longacre, the designer). Brilliant proof. Excessively rare. Of all the celebrated and valuable collections of United States (coins) which have passed through my hands in the past twenty years, I do not recall a single specimen of this coin being included in any of them. Until a few years ago, this coin in proof condition, was not even listed in the Standard Catalog. I know of only three or four specimens. I consider it by far the rarest of all small cents. Mr. Geiss paid $225.00. This seems a high price but considering its rarity, it would not surprise me to see this coin far exceed this price in the near future."

The coin realized $237.50, successfully improving on the high price Geiss had originally paid for it. No study of die varieties was available at the time and the coin was not plated in the catalog, so it is impossible to say which Snow variety the Geiss coin represented. Recent auction appearances of the Snow-PR1 variety include the prior appearance of the present coin in lot 173 of the Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 3/2009), which realized $97,750.

This lovely proof exhibits mostly deep brown surfaces with lilac toning on the obverse and pale emerald toning on the reverse. Both sides retain splashes of original mint red, yet too little for a red and brown designation. The strike is sharp with solid design details through out. An amazing coin, the surfaces are virtually blemish-free, with a tiny impairment on the obverse border at 1 o'clock. looking much like a tiny lamination. An almost indiscernible color spot is located to the left of the date. Listed on page 115 of the 2014 Guide Book. Population: 1 in 66 Brown, 0 finer (8/13).
Ex: West Palm Beach Signature (Heritage, 6/2008), lot 210; Baltimore Auction (Bowers and Merena, 3/2009), lot 173, realized $97,750.
From The New York Collection of 1864-L Indian Cents.(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 229G, PCGS# 2279)

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