Goldberg Coins and Collectibles



Sale 74

June Long Beach Coin Auction


Flying Eagle Cents
 
 
Lot Photo Description Realized
Lot 2454
1856 Flying Eagle Cent. PCGS graded Proof 64. CAC Approved. Eagle Eye Photo Seal. A well struck proof with a hint of light iridescence. The key Flying Eagle small cent. Only 2,000 minted. A highly attractive Proof 64, tightly buttoned down grade concealing no defects. Reflective surfaces in line with the approach to Gem quality one expects. This combines with finely textured motifs to provide nonstop eye-appeal. The obverse and reverse both are naturally toned. Unquestionably the most famous of all 19th century small cent rarities, certainly a date whose celebrity is generations old within the coin collecting field. Scholarship has for the time being settled the argument as to the number of 1856 flying eagle cents that were made: perhaps 1,500 to 2,500, some in 1856, and others over the course of the next few years to supply those who missed out on the original distribution. The 1856-dated pieces were made to sway congressmen and others of the need for smaller-sized cents to replace the old large cents. In 1857 and 1858, the flying eagles were produced in large numbers for circulation, but those dated 1856 were meant for collectors and others. Above and beyond the raw number of coins produced, this date has always been a heralded as a rare offering in U.S. numismatics. It has been popular for longer than 150 years. Attractive Proofs like the one offered come along in small numbers only in today's active auction venue. We mention that the coin offered here will be met with serious bids, and the outcome will be that appropriate to a near-gem quality example of this legendary rarity. Pop 201; 56 finer (PCGS # 2037) .

Background: In 1856 one master die was made for the Flying Eagle cent (today the letters are called the Style of 1856 letters and, among other characteristics, have a somewhat squared center in the 0 in OF; A and M in AMERICA touch, but the M is slightly higher than the A). This identical master die was used to make all 1856-dated dies and, very early in 1857, to make 1857-dated dies with Style of 1856 letters. In all probability, the letter punches used to make this and other master dies were ordered from a private source outside the Mint.

The governments imminent approval of a statute to alter the alloy of the Cent in 1856 left Mint Director Snowden pleading for a design to begin trial strikings without delay. The task of achieving a satisfactory product in fell to James Barton Longacre. For the obverse, the artist selected a variant of the flying eagle that adorned the reverse of the 1836-9 Gobrecht Pattern Dollars. Although nearly two decades old, this eagle hadnt faded into obscurity; it had appeared on several Patterns of 1854-5. The reverse got a copy of the wreath of corn, cotton, maple, and tobacco that already appeared on Longacre's Gold Dollar and $3 Gold pieces. Despite the short production run of this design, the rarity and allure of 1856 Flying Eagle Proof strikings insured that it would remain forever a part of the collecting lore and popularity.
Estimated Value $20,000 - 22,000.
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$23,000
Lot 2455
1856 Flying Eagle Cent. PCGS graded MS-63. Pop 41; 50 finer at PCGS in Mint State. Nice even toning and well struck, with all the finer detail seen on the eagle's wings, breast, and leg feathers. The cereal wreath on the reverse by Longacre is comprised of cotton, tobacco, sugar cane, corn, wheat and oak leaves. This is the first design of a cereal wreath created by the Mints chief engraver, 1844-69. All design elements are similarly well impressed by the dies as on the obverse. A handsome offering of this Key Date Small Cent. The Flying Eagle and Indian Cents are collected as a single Set. This may be due to the 1856-58 Flying Eagles having lasted such a short time. Also, the main designer of both was mint engraver James B. Longacre. so the two Types go together (PCGS # 2013) .

On the dollars of 1836, 1838 and 1839, and the copper-nickel cent coins in 1856-58 is the portrait of an American eagle which was for many years a familiar sight in the streets of Philadelphia. "Peter," one of the finest eagles ever captured alive, was the pet of the Philadelphia Mint, and was generally known as the "Mint bird." Not only did he have free access to every part of the Mint, going without hindrance into the treasure vaults where even the treasurer of the United States would not go alone, but he used his own pleasure in going about the city, flying over the houses, sometimes perching upon lamp posts in the streets. Everybody knew him, and even the street boys treated him with respect.

The government provided his daily fare, and he was as much a part of the Mint establishment as the superintendent or the chief coiner. He was kindly treated and had no fear of anybody or anything, and he might be in the Mint yet if he had not sat down to rest upon one of the great flywheels. The wheel started without warning, and Peter was caught in the machinery. One of his wings was broken, and he died a few days later. The superintendent had his body beautifully mounted, with his wings spread to their fullest extent; and to this day Peter stands in a glass case in the Mint cabinet. A portrait of him as he stands in the case was put upon the coins named.

In stuffed form Peter was exhibited widely including at the Treasury exhibit at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Today the bird is on view in the lobby of the Philadelphia Mint on Independence Square.
Estimated Value $18,000 - 20,000.
The Coltrin Family Collection.

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$14,950
Lot 2456
1857 Flying Eagle Cent. PCGS graded MS-65. Boldly struck and untoned. A very choice coin. Sparkling light golden iridescence permeates this satiny Flying Eagle beauty with a life of its own. Add a sky-scraping level of mint frostiness, bold design, and aesthetic appeal and the totality is very tempting. Pop 202; 2 in 65+, 16 in 66 (PCGS # 2016) .

Note: Mint designer-engraver James Barton Longacre reworked Gobrecht's famous flying eagle of 1836-9 and placed it on the obverse of America's first Small Cents. These were first given the name "white cents" by the public and must have been strikingly brilliant and silvery when new compared to the old red Large Cents then being withdrawn. For the reverse Longacre adapted his first wreath of cereals design first used on Gold Dollars and Three-dollar Gold pieces but differing from the wreath used on half dimes and dimes of the period. Together, these borrowings combine to give us one of our nation's most attractive coin designs. It is unfortunate the Flying Eagle had to be retired so suddenly. Unfortunate, that is, for lovers of artistic coinage; but fortunate for today's avid coin buyers.
Estimated Value $3,200 - 3,400.
The Coltrin Family Collection.

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$2,645
Lot 2457
1858 Flying Eagle Cent. Large letters. PCGS graded MS-65. Lightly toned and well struck. A velvety smooth and lustrous gem with a gradation of faint champagne on both sides. The contact from the dies is complete, including full sharpness at the eagles breast, tail feathers (which are nicely detailed and separated) and claws. A beautiful example for any advanced collector. Pop 154; 1 in 65+, 26 in 66, 1 in 66+ (PCGS # 2019) .
Estimated Value $3,000 - 3,200.
The Coltrin Family Collection.

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$2,990
Lot 2458
1858 Flying Eagle Cent. Small letters. PCGS graded MS-65. A well struck untoned gem. A high degree of luster distinguishes the natural light coppery brown and tan surfaces from other Flying Eagles of the date which are less pulsating even though in technically similar grade. Collectors familiar with the series will recognize this difference at once. Pop 59; 9 in 66 (PCGS # 2020) .
Estimated Value $3,300 - 3,500.
The Coltrin Family Collection.

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$3,335
Lot 2459
1858/7 Flying Eagle Cent. PCGS graded MS-63 PQ CAC Approved. A popular Red Book variety. Includes Eagle Eye Photo Seal. Pop 26; 25 in 64, 1 in 64+, 5 in 66. Nicely toned. One of the finer examples known of this very popular overdate. One must look carefully to find any imperfections. This coin has an even light brown tone. A small darker area below STATES includes the only identifiable marks, and these are strictly limited. This coin has all the look of a higher grade.

The strike is as full as this issue is seen. There is slight weakness on the tips of the tail feathers and right side of the wreath, but this is how this issue usually comes. No 1858/7 has been seen with any more detail in these areas than this coin. For the longest time there has been resistance on the part of the grading services to grade any 1858/7 much higher than MS63. This may be because of the weakness on the reverse. Since this weakness is on all coins from these dies, should it be a factor in limiting the grade?

This is a relatively early die state. The 7 digit shows above and to the right of the last 8. The diagnostic die dot above the date is bold and triangular in shape. The broken wing tip is just about connected to the wing, this being another indication that this is early before the die deteriorated.

The die states of this issue are very important because nearly 75% of the entire issue is from late state dies with little or no evidence of the 7 showing. Collectors who desire top quality examples of this date prefer to see the 7. The aforementioned die chip is believed to be the left base of a misplaced 1 digit! Only on these early die state pieces is this feature seen to be from a digit punch.

This is a huge opportunity to acquire on of the choicer examples of this popular overdate. The issue is normally collected as part of the regular issue Flying Eagle series, adding to its desirability (PCGS # 2022) .
Estimated Value $12,000 - 14,000.
The Coltrin Family Collection.

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$8,338






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