1787 NEW YORK "EXCELSIOR" -
Eagle on Globe Facing Left
Images courtesy of Heritage
PCGS AU-55 (illustrated
below). Ex - Ira
& Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson
II", February 18-19, 2002, Lot 12, illustrated, where it was
described as follows: "1787 New York "Excelsior"
Copper. Eagle facing left. PCGS graded AU-55. Excelsior, the very
name is part of the holy grail of United States Colonials, for it is
tied directly to the famed Brasher Doubloon of the same date and to the
die maker of each, John Bailey. Perfect light brown in color, the
devices are generally well struck and enhanced by slightly darker hues
in the fields that surround them. A touch of weakness on the small
central shield, with the sun over the mountains and rays above weak,
perhaps as much from die failure as strike. Quickly identifiable by a
small dig at the center of the shield on the reverse, although we were
unable to trace this one to any previous auctions. A classic rarity in
any grade, and this particular coin is certainly one of the very finest
known. Breen estimates that 15-20 are known, and that seems too high.
Many of the great colonial collections of the past several decades did
not have a specimen, and those that did often could only locate a rather
low grade piece. These patterns were struck by John Bailey and
possibly for Ephram Brasher as state coinage proposals for New York,
they incorporate the State Arms of New York on the obverse, the reverse
with the Great Seal of the United States loosely copied with a large
eagle with outstretched wings, E PLURIBUS UNUM around, and 1787 below.
These New York arms are found on that state's paper currency issue of
April 18, 1786, as engraved by Peter Maverick (Breen). Their heraldic
blazoning: "Sun rising over three mountains, sea in foreground, all
proper; crest, eagle surmounts demi-globe on torse; dexter supporter,
Liberty with cap and pole; sinister supporter, Justice, with
scales." EXCELSIOR, or "More excellent, more noble," is
the state motto: (Newman). As to rarity, PCGS has graded just two
examples, this coin as by far the finest in AU-55, on one other grading
EF-40. Although a different example, this one is very similar in grade
to the Garrett coin offered in 1979. This particular coin is a later die
state, and that may account for the central obverse weakness. Note the
rim crumbling below the date and around the periphery. Many are poorly
struck and off center, this one is well centered and rather sharp for
the issue. Others are listed below. A foremost opportunity, and we feel
this colonial is underrated and may prove to be far rarer than currently
reported, once the pedigree chains are connected and further research is
accomplished. Purchased in a private transaction a few years
ago. The best listing of these we could locate was published in Bowers
and Merena's Norweb sale, March 1988, and we thank them their for
research on this rare issue:
1) The present specimen, PCGS graded AU-55
2). Bowers & Ruddy's Garrett Sales, November 1979: 599 AU-50.
3). Bowers and Merena's Norweb Part II Sale, March 1988: 2681 Very Fine
35., purchased privately from New Netherlands, December 11, 1954 by the
4). Stack's Park Sale, May 1976: 58 (unknown grade, but Very Fine or
5). Stack's John L. Roper, 2nd Sale, December 1983: 271, ex Merkin Sale,
October 1973: 121 Very Fine
6). Stack's Donald Groves Sale, November 1974: 334, Fine to Very Fine
7). Stack's Robison Sale, February 1982: 152, a strong Fine.
8). Stack's FPL, 1989, item C153, Fine, ex: Andrew C. Zabriskie, H.
Chapman, June 3, 1909, lot 77, plated.
9). Stack's FPL, 1986, item C41, Very Good.
10) New Netherland's 60th, December 1968: 414, Fine to Very Fine,
"XF-40, light scratches"
(illustrated above). Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s ANA
Signature Sale, August 11-13, 1999, Lot 5033, "9.58 grams" at
In their April 2000 Fixed Price List, Superior Galleries offered a PCGS
XF45 example of the 1787 New York "Excelsior" - Eagle on Globe
Facing Left for $22,500.