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Obverse of 1864 One Cent - Copper-Nickel     Reverse of 1864 One Cent - Copper-Nickel


1864 ONE CENT -
COPPER-NICKEL
(see also 1864 One Cent - Copper)

PCGS Nos: 2070, 2265

Mintage:

Circulation strikes: 13,740,000
Proofs: est. 370

Designer: James B. Longacre

Diameter: 19 millimeters

Metal content:
Copper - 88%
Nickel - 12%

Weight: 72 grains (4.67 grams)

Edge: Plain

Mintmark: None (for Philadelphia) below the bow of the wreath on the reverse

Notes:
The 1864 Copper-Nickel Indian Head Cent represents the last time this alloy was used on an American coin (later in 1864, the Mint began making One-Cent and Two-Cent pieces out of nearly pure copper).  The 1864 Copper-Nickel Cents are much thicker than their bronze replacements, perhaps as a holdover to the old philosophy that coins must contain their full weight and value in their respective metals.  Uncirculated examples of the 1864 Copper-Nickel Cent are easily obtained, but Gems are scarce.  The pale color of the Copper-Nickel Cents earned them the nickname "White Cents."

The finest Uncirculated example graded by PCGS is a single MS-67.

The finest Proof examples graded by PCGS are 2 PR-67's.

The finest Proof Cameo example graded by PCGS are 6 PRCA-66's.

The finest Proof Deep Cameo example graded by PCGS is a single PRDC-66.

Images courtesy of Superior Galleries

Recent appearances:
PCGS Proof-66 Red.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "The California Sale", October 2-3, 2000, Lot 1409, "No L"

PCGS graded Proof 66.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1090, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Copper-nickel… A beautiful ultra-deep mirror example with fully frosted devices. Nearly perfect, the sole exception being a few light flyspecks, which are visible with high magnification. The reported mintage of 370 pieces is the lowest of all the copper-nickel Indian Cents. Survivors are typically below average compared to the quality of the 1862 issue. This example is one of the notable exceptions. Except spirited bidding on this gem. The reverse is slightly rotated to the left.", sold for $4,830.00

NGC Proof-66 Red and Brown.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5920, plated, sold for $3,335.00

NGC Proof-65 Cameo.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Lake Geneva Sale", June 28-29, 2001, Lot 139, illustrated, sold for $3,680.00

NGC Proof-65 Red and Brown.  Ex- Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Sale" October 5-7, 2000, Lot 5919, plated, sold for $2,127.50

NGC Proof-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1138, sold for $1,380.00

Proof-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1139, sold for $977.50

Proof-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Rarities Sale", January 3, 2001, Lot 53, illustrated, not sold

PCGS graded Proof 64.  Ex - Ira & Larry Goldberg Coins & Collectibles, Inc.'s "Benson Collection, Part I", February 16, 18-20, 2001, lot 1091, illustrated, where it was described as follows: "Pattern Cent. Judd-358, Pollock-429, Rarity-7, Copper-nickel with "L"…The rare 1864 with L proof, struck in copper nickel. Only 3 examples are known to exist. This coin, another PR-64 PCGS example which is in an upstate New York collection, and an XF example rumored to exist. This example exhibits moderately deep mirrors, frosty devices and nearly flawless surfaces. Only a few insignificant contact marks limit the grade.

This is actually a transitional issue, which could easily be argued to be an essential part of a complete collection of Indian Cents -- an extension of the copper-nickel series into the design change to the "With L" redesign by James Longacre. Although the addition of the designers initial to the lower ribbon is part of the design change, the whole portrait was given a much needed redesign. The feather headdress is now much sharper, as is the hair detail. The bust truncation is now very narrow, very similar to the 1859 and 1860 pointed bust issues.

The dies used to strike this issue are the same dies that struck the 10 known original 1864 with L proofs in bronze (PR-1). The reverse die was also used on the 1864 No L proofs, confirming that this coin was indeed struck in 1864. It now is widely known that the other half of the 20 known 1864-L bronze proofs (PR-2) were struck during the "Linderman" restriking period of 1868-71. Proof of this came when this author compared an 1864-L with later proofs from 1870 and 1871 and found the reverses to be identical. Who said reverse dies are boring!

We can only speculate about the reason this coin exists. Perhaps Longacre planned a redesign of the Indian Cent in 1864 independent of the decision to change the composition to bronze following the passage of the Mint Act of April 22, 1864. If so, then the 1st issue of bronze 1864 With L's would also have been struck before that date, making them patterns as well. By comparing the die polishing marks on the reverse of this coin with the next lot, the 1864 No L proof issue was struck first. This shows that in all likelihood the proof 1864 With L's in both copper-nickel and bronze were indeed struck late in the year after the changeover to bronze was official, which is why this coin gets the pattern number and the bronze 1864 with L's do not.

The rarity and importance of this coin is tremendous. This coin has not been available in a public auction for many, many years, if at all. In fact, when this coin surfaced in the 1990's, it resided in a major third party encapsulation without any indication as to its importance. The coin had labeled as a regular 1864 CN proof! Of course, it is the coin that is important, not the label, and this coin was never in doubt as to its real status as the nearly unique 1864 With L Proof in copper nickel.", sold for $17,250.00

Choice Brilliant Proof. Ex- Stack's "The September Sale", September 12-13, 2000, Lot 112, sold for $1,207.50

NGC MS-66 Red and Brown.  Ex - Bowers and Merena Galleries' Robert W. Schwan Collection Sale, October 26-27, 2000, Lot 318, sold for $299.00

NGC MS-66 Red and Brown.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7531, not illustrated, sold for $333.50

NGC MS-65 Red.  Ex - Heritage Numismatic Auctions, Inc.'s "Long Beach Signature Sale", May 31-June 2, 2001, Lot 7532, not illustrated, sold for $431.25

PCGS MS-65 Red.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part III", May 21, 2001, Lot 1351, not illustrated, not sold

NGC MS-65 (illustrated above).  Ex - Superior Galleries "The ANA 2001 National Money Show Auction", March 8-9, 2001, Lot 28, sold for $862.50

NGC MS-65.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1140, sold for $575.00

NGC MS-64 Red.  Ex - Bowers & Merena Galleries' "The Cabinet of Lucien M. LaRiviere, Part II", March 15-17, 2001, Lot 1144, sold for $529.00

Sources and/or recommended reading:
"The PCGS Population Report, October 2003" by The Professional Coin Grading Service

 
 

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