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1787 Massachusetts Cent, Arrows in Right Talon, BN

Image Information

Type Coin
Title 1787 Massachusetts Cent, Arrows in Right Talon, BN
Date 1787
Grade AU50
Service NGC
Service Catalog # 299
Denomination CENT

1787 CENT Massachusetts Cent, Arrows in Right Talon, Ryder 2a-F, W-6070, High R.6 -- Improperly Cleaned -- NGC Details. AU. Die alignment: 165?. One of the classic rarities of the Colonial series, the 1787 Transposed Arrows variety of Massachusetts cent ranks with the Date Under Plowbeam New Jersey pieces as among the most distinctive types of state copper coinage struck in the Confederation era. On this variety only, the eagle clutches the arrows in its right talons (the left from the viewer's perspective). It is also the only variety of Massachusetts copper coin with the word CENT on the shield struck in relief rather than in incuse lettering (though not visible on this example). For these reasons, the Transposed Arrows cent is considered a separate type rather than simply another die variety. This is a high-grade example, albeit one that has been improperly cleaned at some point in the past, probably quite long ago. The surfaces are retoning to a light brown, with the bright copper coloring relegated to the protected areas of the legends and central devices. The surfaces show microgranularity under magnification, but little in the way of marks. A bit of planchet roughness can be seen throughout WEALTH to the right of the Indian. The granularity is more pronounced on the reverse, and a couple of spots of darker toning are present near the H of MASSACHUSETTS and the 1 of the date, but these are hardly distracting. Its strike is firm toward the peripheries of the coin, being softer in the center. The 1787-dated Massachusetts cents are the first coins struck within the United States to bear that denomination. They display a quintessentially American design -- the Native American and eagle -- as opposed to features based largely on British halfpence. The Transposed Arrows variety has long been acknowledged as a major rarity. Crosby knew only of four pieces in 1875. Breen could only provide provenances for five examples over a century later, listing a sixth and seventh merely as "Rumored" in his Complete Encyclopedia (the current coin was not included by him). Michael Hodder, cataloging the Ford example in 2004, traced 10. Researcher Mike Packard currently estimates 17 or so survivors. Listed on page 61 of the 2018 Guide Book. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.

Heritage Newman IX, November 2017, lot 15025, realized $55200. Images and description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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Image Collection Eric P. Newman Collection, Part IX
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