US Coins

1856 Flying Eagle cent classic 19th century key

The 1856 Flying Eagle cent is a classic key issue and this one, graded Proof 53, sold for $9,775 at an Oct. 17 auction.

Images courtesy Scotsman Auction Co.

Scotsman Auction Co.’s Oct. 17, 2014, Collectors’ Auction in St. Charles, Mo., brought just over $1 million, realizing $1,115,119. The firm’s auctions, including the latest, are notable for the wide range of material that is offered, from complete sets of Liberty Head 5-cent pieces to pieces of scarce paper currency. 

Three key coins offered in the auction in the About Uncirculated grade show the differences of quality within that grade, which is typically segregated into the AU-50, AU-53, AU-55 and AU-58 grade levels. The latter is often referred to in shorthand as “borderline Uncirculated.”

Here is one of those coins that graded at the About Uncirculated level even though it is a Proof piece:

The 1856 Flying Eagle cent is a classic 19th century key date. The issue is generally considered by numismatists to be a pattern coin, which is why Numismatic Guaranty Corp. characterizes this example as a Proof piece rather than a Mint State piece, even though it doesn’t look like a Proof coin by traditional standards.

Scotsman notes that this issue is extremely popular with album collectors and adds, “One can only imagine the thrill of displacing this marvelous coin from its slab and placing it into an old, vintage album, filling what is very easily the toughest small-cent hole for any set.” The piece, graded Proof 53, exhibits some light wear not uncommon for this issue, which enjoyed very wide distribution especially considering its limited mintage. The mintage is unknown but is thought to be between 1,500 and 2,000.

It sold for just under $10,000, bringing a healthy $9,775 at Scotsman Auction Co.’s Oct. 17, 2014, Collectors’ Auction in St. Charles, Mo.

The auction brought just over $1 million, realizing $1,115,119. Another notable coin that sold was this 1916-D Winged Liberty Head (Mercury) dime in AU-55, CAC, that sold for $9,487.50

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