Click to enlargeJ361/P432

The famous 1864-L cent. We believe the pattern reference books have gotten this item wrong with regard to what compositions should be part of the pattern realm and which ones are regular issues.

Three obverse dies were used to strike proofs but only 1 die, a novodel, belongs to the pattern series.

1) Date left on which the bust point is aligned with the edge of the '1' in the date. Snow dies PR1 and PR3. These are believed to be original 1864 striking and is the copper-nickel image above. Photo courtesy of Heritage. These 2 were not used to produce restrikes.

2) Date right, Snow dies PR2, which is the one described in Walter Breen's "Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977". It has the bust point left of the '1' in the date and a die scratch on the neck below and running parallel to the Indian's ear as shown on the aluminum image above. Photo courtesy of Tim Larson. Like the similar 1863-L pieces, this obverse is a novodel made circa 1869 to the early 1870s and was combined with a reverse die used for striking circa 1868-1871 proofs per Dave Bowers and Richard Snow.

These latter pieces are related to the 1864 two cent, trime, half dime and dime novodels and were probably made for inclusion in sets with the quarter, half dollar and dollar with "In God We Trust" on the reverse as used from 1866-1891.

Non-bronze examples from the novodel Snow PR2 die are known as follows: To see images of all of these, click here.

Copper restrike/novodel J357 Unlisted by Pollock due to being indistinguishable from regular bronze without chemical analysis, NGC has presumably tested and graded at least 3 different examples. Others may exist masquerading as regular bronze proofs.

1) Heritage 1/14, Heritage 5/23 NGC65BN

2) Heritage 4/14 NGC63RB

3) Heritage 4/16 NGC62RB/PCGS63BN

Note: Heritage 4/14 sale had a second cleaned example which was struck from one of the 1864 dies. We suspect that it is a regular bronze proof.

Nickel restrike/novodel J359/P430 with only 2 confirmed ex follows:

1) Stacks 9/89, Simpson-Heritage 8/21 - PCGS62

2) Private collection since the 1940s, StacksBowers 6/11 NGC proof details environmental damage.

One of these is ex Newcomer, the other ex Brenner-1914 ANS, Brand.

Oroide J360/P431 which may not exist. Per Rick Snow, "the Stacks 9/89 example, believed to be ex-Farouk was tested and found to be copper-nickel (J358/P429)".

Aluminum restrike/novodel J361/P432. Rick Snow lists 3 in his "The Flying Eagle & Indian Cent Attribution Guide, 2nd Edition, Volume 2, 1859-1869" including one in AU50. Click on the thumbnail to see an enlargement.

The following 2 are confirmed

1) Stacks 9/89, Simpson-Heritage 11/20 PCGS61 with lint mark or scratch by first feather

2) Judd, B/R RCR #21 1974- #25 1976, B/R 6/76, Stacks 6/77, unknown intermediates, Superior 7/03 as NGC66, Heritage 9/13 PCGS65

One of these is ex Newcomer, the other ex Brenner-1914 ANS, Brand.

Photo courtesy of Tim Larson.


Note: Judd and Pollock list J358/P429 as a pattern coin. We believe this is not accurate. All known examples including the one illustrated below were either struck from Snow's PR1 and PR3 dies or from regular 1864 business strike dies. As of January 2023, at least 10 are confirmed - 4 in proof and 6 from business strike dies with 4 of those well circulated and one cleaned. Heritage offered 3 examples in 2 of their January 2023 sales, NGCPR61, NGCAU53 and NGCAU50. To see images of all of these, click here.

We believe this should be delisted and classified as a regular issue as either the Mint had already switched to dies with the L before the switch in composition to bronze occurred or else the Mint continued to use any remaining copper-nickel stock while simultaneous striking cents using the new bronze alloy. Either way, this issue is not a die trial nor is it some kind of pattern.

Photo courtesy of Richard Snow.