The finest graded Indian Head cent collection of all time was assembled by Dr. Alan Epstein from 1987 through 1993, combined with a Flying Eagle set of equal magnitude. Consider these facts:
1) The average grade was 66.25.
2) By the time he sold there were only 9 possible upgrades -- one of which, the 1909-S MS67RD, is a mystery coin.
3) It included the only 2 MS68's ever given out by PCGS at that time (now there are 3), 18 MS67's and 37 MS66's.
The collection was built up around an MS65RD set, with constant upgrades and many lateral trades to higher quality coins of the same grade holder. All were PCGS certified. At the time it was valued by Dr. Epstein at $463,000 -- including the Flying Eagle coins -- and he offered it for private sale at this price in 1995 with no takers. It was then marketed at major coin shows, again with no acceptable offers. Frustrated and needing funds for a stock venture, he sold the collection to Eagle Eye Rare Coins in 1995.
After purchasing the set Richard Snow and Brian Wagner of Eagle Eye began offering the coins to their customers. They sold quickly. One coin, the 1899 MS68RD, was repurchased by Dr. Epstein for their asking price of $12,500 because it was his favorite coin. After a year he consigned it back to Eagle Eye and it sold for $14,500.
The popularity and prices of this series increased dramatically over the next 6 years. In 2001 at the Superior Galleries auction of the Paul Googleman collection, three coins (the 1872 & 1877 in MS66, and the 1873 cl3 MS67) brought about $200,000 by themselves.
The complete collection, along with images of the early dates courtesy of an older Rick Snow website and one other from a more recent auction sale:
Special thanks to a Longacre's Ledger article by Rick Snow and additional facts provided by Stewart Blay.