The true color of a Civil War era, copper-nickel cent

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by johnmilton, May 27, 2024.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Collectors make a big deal out of the color of bronze cents. Many collectors strive for red, although I am not one of them if the piece is over 100 years old. I've been burned a few times on pieces that were dipped to look red, which changed color in less than a year. My favorite is a rich, stable brown followed by R&B.

    The Flying eagle and Indian cents, which were issued from 1856 to mid 1864, are another matter. They were made of 88% copper and 12% nickel. Despite the large amount of copper, these coins were white colored when they were new. People described them as "thick, white cents." They are also called "nickels" before the nickel five cent piece was introduced in 1866.

    This 1863 Indian Cent has its original color. This is something similar to a "red bronze cent" if you are looking for original color. This piece looks white, like a modern nickel, when you see it in person. For some reason it is coming up yellowish on this posting, although when I bring the photo up on Photoshop, it's white.

    1863 Cent All.jpg

    Sometimes these coins can get a golden color as seen on this 1858 Flying Eagle Cent. This color is quite acceptable, although one of the grading services had the nerve or ignorance to send it back to me in body bag as "questionable toning." Today this piece is in an NGC MS-64 holder.

    1858 Flying Eagle All.jpg

    Sometimes these coins can acquire multiple colors as is seen on this 1864 copper-nickel cent. These coins can bring premium prices.

    1864 CN Cent All.jpg

    The one color to avoid is black. When these coins corrode, they usually turn black and can be crusty. Once and a while you will see a green spots on these pieces. You should avoid those problem coins also.
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  3. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Hamlet Squire of Tomfoolery . . . . .

    I vote "ignorance" . . . . .

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  4. SensibleSal66

    SensibleSal66 U.S Casual Collector / Error Collector

    WoW! Now I need sunglasses. Beautiful natural pristine condition.
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  5. wxcoin

    wxcoin Getting no respect since I was a baby

    I love the strike of the FE!
  6. paddyman98

    paddyman98 I'm a professional expert in specializing! Supporter

    I love those old Indian Head Liberty Cents..

    This was my best metal detected find in the sand in Brighton Beach, Coney Island Brooklyn. Not Civil War era but a beauty!

    Message_1538225961882-1.jpg 20180929_090031-1.jpg 20180929_112926.jpg
  7. mrweaseluv

    mrweaseluv Supporter! Supporter

    I got one that "color" but they say mine was cleaned lol...
    1863f.jpg 1863o.jpg 1863r.jpg
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  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    @paddyman98, that 1876 cent was probably lost when it was brand new for the centennial.

    @mrweaseluv, unfortunately that 1863 cent has cleaning lines.
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  9. mrweaseluv

    mrweaseluv Supporter! Supporter

    yes I know but I just actually upgraded that one in the type set... not quite as bright though lol....
    6001692_Full_Obv.jpg 6001692_Full_Rev.jpg
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  10. wxcoin

    wxcoin Getting no respect since I was a baby

    Here's my 1863. I recently bought it in a DLRC auction. It's graded MS66 by NGC. Yhe images are from DLRC.
    1862ihco.jpg 1863ihcr.jpg
  11. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder Supporter

    Nice educational thread!
  12. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

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  13. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

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  14. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

    Last edited: May 28, 2024
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  15. Cheech9712

    Cheech9712 Every thing is a guess

  16. Long Beard

    Long Beard Well-Known Member

    Like yourself, I tend to favor the red-brown coppers vs red and for similar reasons. My thoughts on third party graded uncirulated details, of which there are far more than straight grade, originates from what an old time dealer once explained when I asked how a copper coin that old could retain it's original color. Laquer or shelac was used as a means to seal the coin. So how it was removed prior to modern encapsulation plays a major role. What few realize is that prior to the invention of electricity, kerosene was the primary source of lighting, which emits sulphur when burnt. Highly detremental to copper. This would also explain why very few have survived in red-brown or red without some sort of protection. And why I would not buy one raw.
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