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    "Probable Prototype" Copper 1856 Snow-1 Flying Eagle Cent

    1856 P1C Flying Eagle Cent, Judd-181, Pollock-211, R.7, PR63 Brown PCGS. Dies of Snow-1 struck in copper. The obverse clearly shows the repunched 5 that is characteristic of Richard Snow's obverse 1. The reverse has the tilted ONE CENT feature, described by Snow as reverse A. With the reverse in its proper vertical alignment with the ribbon bow at 6 o'clock and the branch terminals at 12 o'clock, ONE and CENT are both slanted sharply downward from left to right. In The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide, 1856-1858, published in 2001 and 2003, Snow commented: "Important as the probably prototype striking of the first small cents. Short of actual Mint letters mentioning a rejected die, we can only speculate about the events which made this unusual die pair so rare. The reverse is likely not one of the four dies listed as being made in late 1856. It is probable that it was defaced and discarded after the tilting of the ONE CENT was noticed."
    Both copper and copper-nickel examples of this die are known, the first copper-nickel example being recognized by this cataloger in 1990. According to Snow's Census, just four examples of this variety are now known in copper-nickel, and two others in copper. The present specimen increases the Census of copper strikes by one additional coin. Exactly seven examples of this die combination are known, regardless of composition.
    This specimen is sharply struck with all obverse and reverse details fully defined. Both sides have attractive olive brown color and only a few insignificant spots. The obverse has traces of original mint red color framing the eagle and lining portions of the border. The reverse has considerable pale blue iridescence. There are few blemishes on either side, with a short scratch at the top of the reverse serving as a useful pedigree marker. This actually may not be a scratch, but rather a lint mark present at the time of striking. The surfaces inside and surrounding this area have identical toning patterns without any disturbance. There also does not appear to be any displaced metal.
    For the advanced specialist in the Flying Eagle and Indian cent coinage, this is an extremely important opportunity. If this is actually the prototype for the Flying Eagle cent, its historical importance is immense. While copper strikes of the 1856 Flying Eagle cent are generally not valued as highly as copper-nickel examples, this piece is rarer and possesses infinitely greater historical value.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 29AY, PCGS# 11792)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2006
    13th-14th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 721

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