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Lot 30379

Image Information

Type Coin
Title Lot 30379
Date 1787
/Catalog #
Grade 15
Service NGC
Denomination N YORK
Description 1787 COPPER New York Excelsior Copper, Eagle Left Fine 15 NGC. W-5785, Breen-980, R.6. In early 1787, several New York private mint owners submitted formal petitions to the state legislature for franchises to manufacture copper coins legally; among them were John Bailey and Ephraim Brasher, who submitted their petitions in February, and Thomas Machin, who submitted his in March. The petitions were not well-received, and in April of that year, the legislature passed a law which prohibited the circulation of any copper coins weighing less than 1/3 ounce avoirdupois, and pegged the value of any sufficient-weight pieces at 20 to a shilling, a 30% loss from the previous 14 to a shilling valuation. The law not only restricted the legality of the then-circulating Birmingham coppers, it also put a cinch on the perceived high profits of the coiners of the underweight pieces, though it is questionable if the law was indeed enforceable. The denial of their franchise petitions did not seem to affect Bailey and Brasher, as that same year a significant quantity of unauthorized coppers bearing designs and inscriptions related to New York were struck, possibly prior to August 1787, when the April 20th law took effect. Most of these coppers were of the NOVA EBORAC design, though a small number of earlier pieces bearing the inscription EXCELSIOR, believed to be pattern coins for the February petitions, are also known to survive. Bowers notes the punch used for these New York coppers is identical to the one Brasher used for his doubloons, which suggests Bailey and Brasher may have been in association with each other, and possibly in the same private New York mint, though that is not known for certain. Still, several aspects of the Excelsior copper designs closely resemble those of the doubloon, most notably the similar reverse eagle, and the rising sun obverse motif, seen on the copper in the small central crest of the obverse. Three varieties of the Excelsior copper are known, two differentiated by the position of the obverse eagle, and one prohibitively rare variant with the arrows and the olive branch swapped on the reverse. This piece represents the left-facing eagle variety, which is the most plentiful of the three, but is still itself exceedingly rare. The high points exhibit glossy medium brown patina, while the recesses are slightly darker and finely granular. All design elements are clear, and the overall visual appeal is outstanding for the issue. This is the only representative certified at NGC, and PCGS has seen only 11 pieces in all grades (4/14). Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society. Realized $14,100.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.

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