Eagle.  Date low, far to r., much nearer to 13th star than to first, the partly filled 3 nearly lined up with r. corner of truncation. Scattered rust pits on cheek and neck. Left base of 1 central. Rev. Top of second stripe thin. (1) S1 ex Mint. (2) ANS ex Brock, Morgan. (3) Eliasberg. (4) Garrett: 405, cleaned, $19,000. (5) Davis-Graves: 943, impaired. (6) Melish:2451, to A. M. Kagin, possibly ex Menjou:1604? (7) Wolfson: 685, possibly ex Boyd, WGC:668, "Memorable": 561. Sources of the lasttwo lots possibly should be transposed. (8) Amon Carter Sr. & Jr., probably ex Geiss: 1890. No ninth example definitely identified. The same obv. was apparently reused on two gold and many copper pieces with GOD OUR TRUST on scroll or in field.
Double Eagle.  Large heavy date, far to r., 3 close to border; left base of lover left edge, these positions possibly not diagnostic. Rev. Die obviously unpolished around arrows. Note similarity of date position to that on eagle. (1) S1 ex Mint. (2) ANS ex Brock, Morgan. (3) Eliasberg. (4) Garrett:404, cloudy, $18,000. (5) Melish:914, planchet chip near bust point. (6) Wolfson:881, probably cleaned as claimed to be brilliant on devices; possibly ex Menjou: 1801. (7) Boyd, WGC: 866, "Memorable": 688. (8) Dr. Judd, "Ill.Hist.":152. (9) 1974 ANA:995, $32,500, possibly same as one of above. (10) 1976 ANA:3208, $14,000, ditto. Cf. also Dunham:2305; Atwater:1255; DiBello:1224; "H. R. Lee":1707.
Gold proof sets.  Delivered March 23, with the few extras of the $1 and $3. One, ex Heman Ely, went by private treaty via W. Elliot Woodward to T. H. Garrett, Sept. 5, 1883, thence to J. W. Garrett, Johns Hopkins, and the Garrett sale, in which it was broken up and realized a total of $111,750. Others were in the J. B. Wilson sale (1908) and the Earle sale (1912) -the same? Cf. also M. A. Brown: 99, Wetmore:148, and D.S. Wilson: 323, the last two with the following notation which is reproduced for what it is worth: "The late John F. McCoy, one of the largest collectors of the time, stated to me [So Hudson Chapman] that he knew only 30 pieces were struck and of these some were remelted at the mint." Despite Chapman's notorious unreliability, this much is true anyway: McCoy was very active in the 1860's, his collection was auctioned over nearly a week in May 1864, and he may well have survived long enough to tell either of the Chapman brothers something of the kind (perhaps as early as 1877). Records of remelting are known to be fragmentary. The same mintage figure, Without mention of meltage, appeared in McCoy: 1992.
Complete proof sets. The S1 and BrockMorgan-ANS sets appear to be the only complete original ones; others may have been assembled. The extreme value placed on the quarter eagle makes it likely that original sets would have been broken up. Note that the SI's set went from the Coiner to the Curator of the Mint Cabinet March 11, 1863, or twelve days before the gold proofs were supposedly delivered. Price same as in preceding years.
1864 is one of the most difficult years of all, partly because only fragmentary information is available, partly because several of the coins are all but unobtainable. Confronted with situations like this and 1867 and 1856-58, not to mention earlier years, we are like children playing with brightly colored fragments trying to figure out the mosaic design they once made up. And all we can do is assemble our fragments in serenity in the hope that slightly larger chunks may eventually show up.
Cent. Copper-nickel, type of 1863. [370+] Rarer than mintage figure suggests. Borders tend to be broader than on 1862's or 63's, though not invariably. Patterson DuBois's coin (Eavenson: 128) was "one of a few struck on New Year's Day!". As with the earlier copper-nickel cents, there are many deceptive early business strikings around. Proofs that "carry their own credentials" - that are so far beyond doubt as to convince even the most skeptical on sight -brought prices well up in orbit a dozen years ago:Grant Pierce's, $550 (1965); NASC, Feb. 1965, $575; Lester Merkin, Nov. 1965, $520, all these supported by others in the $400 to $475 range. I doubt if as many as 90 specimens can be located today about which there is not some uncertainty or controversy.
Die description for two varieties which do transcend any possible doubt may help collectors. *Obv.: Top of 1 very close to bust, peak well to r. of tip of bust but close; an imaginary line joining top of 1 and end of peak or serif would be parallel to bust line. Left base of 1 above r. edge of denticle. Right base of 4 above space between denticles. Light but plain doubling on much of legend, most prominently on STATES OF. ANS's has perfect die; several, the first being one shown me by Lester Merkin, from the identical dies, have developed a very faint crack from rim between NI (touching r. serif of N and left base of I) into field towards chin, but not reaching device; on 1975 ANA: 83 the crack is plainer. Rev.: Heavy letters, E in ONE nearly closed (upper and lower outer serifs almost meet).
- Faint recutting on 86. NN 57: 53. Very rare, no more exact description available. Rims broad and sharp, both inner and outer edges, not anywhere blurring into denticles, on both varieties.
- Bronze, no L. [100+] This figure may possibly include some pieces with L, though certainty on this point is impossible. The division into 370+ copper-nickel and 100+ bronze is inevitable, given that (1) silver proof sets at the time included the cents.
(2) the mint issued 230 sets in February and 140 in March, total 370, (3) bronze cents were not coined until passage of the Act of Congress, April 22, 1864, (4) the next proof sets made were 100 in July 1864, (5) there were probably extra proofs made of cents and 2Â¢ pieces to commemorate the introduction of the new circulating medium and the denomination.
Very rare and very popular as a type coin: the only bronze cent without L. Blunt bust as in 1861-63. (Coins with L were made from late 1864 through 1909.) Some of these may come from the same obverse die as the copper-nickel, though I have seen none (they would presumably have the crack mentioned). Those I have seen have almost no extra outlines on letters and peak of 1 considerably farther r. of bust point; date slants down, 4 nearer border than 1, left base of lover r. edge, r. base of 4 over left edge. Rev. of 1863 bronze cents, small spine down from crosslet of E(N).
Pure copper impressions from these dies have been weighed at 50 grains: Judd.
Numerous deceptive early strikes are in numismatic circulation; some of these are offered as "with proof edge" or some similar weasel wording. Language of that kind is inexcusable. If there is doubt, the coin should not be sold as a proof. The danger is expecially great for 1864's since many of the genuine proof cents and 2Â¢ pieces are dull. But striking quality, rims and borders of the alleged proofs should be at least equal to those on unquestioned proofs of later years, superior to those on some proofs in the 1870's (when the mint personnel became careless), and superior to uncirculated specimens of the whole period. In particular, proofs should have no frost in fields, no blurring of border denticles into rims, no weakly struck places - look at feather tips, shield, central curls, diamonds on ribbon, edges of letters in ONE CENT, etc.