1864 L Cent

- Bronze, with L: pointed bust as on 1865-86 coins (same hub). Mintage unknown, less than 10 traceable. Obverse die is distinctive among the 18 or more known to have been used for 1864 L cents. Date is about centered, peak of 1 nearly even with bust point (unusual), left base of 1 above space between denticles, r. base of 4 above center of denticle. Spine slants down to lett, about 1.5mm in length, [rom curl below ear into neck. Doubling on much of legend. Rev.: Spine to left from a round leaf tip at very top of r. branch. Heavy letters, base of N in ONE not as strong as other serifs, left base stronger than r. base (respectively rounded and pointed). Compare Mass. Historical Society (S 3/73): 379, spotty; 1952 ANA: 2427, to a dealer; Geiss: 1112; Neil: 2950; Baldenhofer: 214; Lahrman: 504; Scanlon: 158 at $6,000, ex Jay: 434; "Dupont": 1177 (stain above head), later Miles: 234 at $6,000; 1964 Central States auction at $7,000. One with scratch in left obv. field was stolen from A-Mark Co.

Two Cents. Small motto. Mintage unknown. Thought to have formed an extremely small percentage of the 100 proofs issued in July 1864, but more likely to have been made in infinitesimal quantity (of the order of magnitude of a dozen or fifteen pieces?) late in April, outside the normal issue of proof sets; ANS's did not come from the Brock, Morgan proof set. Only the one obverse die used for proofs and nonproofs; verylittle distinction between vertical and horizontal and curved parts of letters in thickness. This working die was originally used on patterns, bearing the 1863 reverse with CENTS markedly curved (nearly a quarter circle) and lacking the long ribbon ends found on the adopted type. I once owned Parmelee's copper or bronze proof of that muling (Judd 366 or 367) and could have owned his aluminum proof at a comparatively low price but disliked the enormous unsightly planchet defect on the latter. Date is low and distant from ball; there are also differences in the die work on leaves of wreath above shield, the berry below final T in TRUST on large motto coins being absent, second leaf of group under TRUST (that in highest relief) having a long stem absent on the large motto hub, etc. Reverse of regular type with ER showing recutting on proofs - this die not used on uncirculated pieces. (1) ANS. (2) Eliasberg. (3) Philip G. Straus estate - 1959 New York Metropolitan Convention auction: 515 at $1,150 - Wolfson: 249 at $4,100 (1963). I know I have seen at least three others; the estimate of about ten known is unlikely to be bettered.

- Large motto, type of 1865-73. [100+] Included in the 100 proof sets minted July 12. probably others made late in April 1864 celebrating the new denomination. The actual number is probably more likely to be something like 200, though this is only an informed guess based on comparative frequencies of appearance. Several minor die varieties, all rare.

(1) Microscopic recutting on tip of left base of 1 and at left side of lower loop of 8. Ball entirely above 6.
(2) Plain repunching below base of 1 and at left of 8, different from last. Landau:264.
(3) Normal date, no repunching. Ball above 6. Left base of 1, r. base of 4 both above centers. Rev. Bent leaf r. of 2 almost disconnected.
(4) Normal date, no repunching. Ball above 6 and space left. Left base of 1 well to r. of center, r. base of 4 over center. Chip on scroll near left fold left of W.

It is premature to guess which is rarer, which commoner. All are hard enough to obtain. Over 90% of survivors can be called at best dull; they quickly toned down in the mint wrappers, the mirrorlike finish itself often obscured. Deceptive first strikes exist; real proofs should have sharp rims, fairly broad borders distinct from beading, no trace of frost or "cartwheel" lustre in field, striking quality equal to that of later proofs and superior to that on business strikes (look at ends of leaves on both sides, borders of shield and horizontal stripes). Private sale records in excess of $600 for the rare blazing red gems.

Minor proof sets. Said to contain nickel cent, bronze cent and 2¢. It is unknown if any contained either the small motto coin or the 1864L cent. None seen in original mint wrappers.

Trime. [470] Originals have base of 4 open, closed top to D, rev. of 1863. Later strikings (July 1864) develop a bulge in upper r. obv. field - cf. NN 54:174. (Restrikes have 4 without recutting, D almost or quite open at top. See Restrikes and Fantasy Pieces.) Very popular, under intense date collector pressure, even though no longer believed a proof-only date as formerly (R. W. Julian proved that 12,000 business strikes were delivered August 30, 1864). However, this revelation did not depress the market, as business strikes are much rarer than the proofs.

Half Dime. [470] Originals (all varieties described below) have D of UNITED closed at top.

- *B-4. Centered date slants up, left base of I and r. base of 4 well to r. of center of dentils. Rev. Left ribbon end touches wreath, r. end close; die of V-I but struck earlier. Very rare, probably included in 100 of Feb. 6? 1974 GENA: 1224-5.

- V-I. Low date, 4 bold, skirt pendant above knob of 6 and minutely r., left base of I and r. base of 4 left of center of dentils. Rev. Same die. Probably comprises most of the 230 struck in February; least rare of the varieties. Rarely found in business strike form. A small hoard of proofs was broken up in 1974.

- B-2. Obv. as last, usually with increasingly heavy clash marks. Rev. Both ribbon ends away from wreath; clashed. Sometimes cracked from rim to wreath at 3:30. Proofs very rare: Merkin 9/68:203; Ruby, "Gilhousen":224; 1973 GENA:222. Business strikes are rare; one was in the Garrett proof set, without crack.

- *B-3. Centered date; without and rarely with crack from rim to top of head. Rev. of B-2, cracked. Dr. Ruby 1:872. Very rare.

(- *B-5, date slants more up, top of D open, rev. both ribbon ends touching, die of 1870-71, is a restrike, known in silver, copper and aluminum. See Restrikes and Fantasy Pieces, below.)

Dime. [470] Shield point well to left of 1, pendant over left edge of 6, left base of lover center, r. base of 4 over left edge. Dot on center of upright of F. Rev. of 1863, left ribbon end touching wreath, r. end barely free. No restrikes reported.

Quarter. [470] Date about centered. Shield point over r. foot of 1; left base of I slightly r. of left edge, r. base of 4 over space. Rev. Arrowheads free. No restrikes reported.

- Motto reverse, probably a die of 1868, thought to be an afterthought. Possibly as many as 5 struck, though we cannot trace so many today. Judd 386, AW 440. Compare Parmelee: 1338, Atwater:721.