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Finest-Known 1877 Indian Cent Crossing GreatCollections Auction Block


The only 1877 Indian Cent graded PCGS MS66+RD. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

The late Stewart Blay was an artist’s artist and collector’s collector. His eye for detail in sculpture was admired as was his eye for quality in numismatics. Having an eye for beauty and quality such as he did in his pursuit for fully Red (“RD”) U.S. copper coins with “original skin” can become an obsession.

Many numismatists recognize the 1877 Indian Cent as the key date coin for the Indian Cent series, which spans from 1859 through 1909. Collectors of the Indian Cent understand how difficult the 1877 rarity is to locate in any and all grades. During the five-decade production of the Indian Cent only the 1909-S Indian Cent (a branch-mint coin) has a lower mintage of 309,000 versus that of the 1877 Indian Cent, with its mintage of 852,500 coins. These are also the only two issues in the series with a mintage of less than a million coins.

And indeed fewer than a million 1877 Indian Cents were produced in an era when small change was in short supply. Thousands of Civil War and trade tokens in small-cent size and general composition were used often in transactions for just this reason. Small-denomination U.S. coins were not only underproduced, but they were also poorly distributed. Survival rates are dismal for pieces like the 1877 cent, especially for examples in exceptional condition.

Locating a nicely struck and problem-free 1877 Indian Cent in Good is a challenge, but nice uncirculated early-date Indian Cents are all scarce. So it’s little wonder that the 1877 Indian Cent in PCGS MS66+RD sees a population of just one. And the sale of this specimen by GreatCollections, offering this coin in an auction that is live now and closes November 19, 2023, represents the first public offering of this example. Bidders are sure to raise their paddles high for this one!

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