Who is Eagle Eye?
I (Rick Snow) started a company called Eagle Eye Rare Coins in Tucson, AZ in 1992. My first book, "Flying Eagle and Indian Cents" came out at the same time. With immediate success came overwhelming work for my single person operation. At the time Brian Wagner was completing one of the finest known Indian Cent collections (all MS-65RD). When he decided to enter the coin business, we tested the idea of a partnership. It worked very well, so I moved up to Seattle and we started Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Inc. in July of 1993. It was a natural for us to specialize in Flying Eagle and Indian Cents. Most of our customers were Indian Cent collectors (from book sales) and our combined knowledge of the field exceeded all other dealers. Since 1993 our yearly sales of Indian Cents to collectors has been over $1 Million.
Prior to Eagle Eye, I worked for Elliot Goldman of Allstate Coins in Tucson for many years as his Senior Numismatist. During that time I gained experience with all types of series, for example in 1989 we assembled one of the finest Morgan Dollar collections for a client (The Antelope Valley Collection). I began my interest in coins back in 1972. Brian had been in his own Real Estate development business for many years and had collecting experience going back to 1958. We both had felt that too many coin dealers conducted their business to the coin collectors detriment. We decided that we would do everything in our power to make our dealings with collectors fair to all involved. This meant fair pricing in both buying and selling, accurate grading, and maintaining a free flow of critcal information.
Pricing information for Flying Eagle and Indian Cents was confusing to many because of the various colors (Brown = BN, Red-Brown = RB, Red = RD) and inconsistent grading from the various grading services. In 1994 we started issuing our Pink Sheet Value Guide. This put in table form all our sales information. At first there was some resistance to the guide. Some thought it would be a self-serving guide to manipulate the market. Many belived that buy prices, not retail prices make markets. We were, and still are, high bidders on Coin-Net (a dealer only wholesale network), but we refused to bid sight-unseen due to quality concerns. Many thought our bids were not real. Our high bids would go unpublished in places like the Coin Dealer Newsletter (they don't list RD prices). We could not get the information out without publishing our Pink Sheet, which we have done stedily since 1994. In 1996, Dave Bowers' book on Flying Eagle and Indian Cents incorporated much of our pricing information, as well as other research since my book was published. The pricing information we publish is now used by many savy dealers and most informed collectors.
Grading and pricing go hand in hand. To make a buy sell market you have to define what it is that you are buying and selling. We sure were not going to buy and sell all NGC and PCGS graded coins at the same price. Their quality and grading has varied too much over the years. There is no consistency. To rectify this, in a flash of inspiration, we started Photo Seal. Started in 1995, Photo Seal is a way to make the collector of Flying Eagle and Indian Cents better able to grade consistently. It is the only way we could make a market in coins graded by other people. We attach a label to the NGC and PCGS slabs and issue a laminated photo and signature card which states that Brian and I have looked at the coin and agree with the grade on the holder. Our buy price for Photo Sealed coin is set at a minimum of 75% of the retail list price. Simple - Revolutionary.
On April 1, 2000, I purchased Brian Wagner's interest in Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Inc. Eagle Eye Photo Seal remains a core to Eagle Eye's business model. I moved the business back to Tucson. Over the years since I have had the pleasure of building many of the finest collections of Indian Cents around. Many of the great collections that I helped build earlier have since been sold through Eagle Eye. The Dr. Larson Collection was sold in 2005, with some amazing coins selling for amazing prices. To name just one example - the finest known 1888/7 (MS-64RB) sold for $85,000 from that collection. It was complete in MS-65RD and better and is ranked as the finest Indian Set (with varieties) of all time at PCGS. One coin that was not full red was a beautiful toned 1877 Indian Cent graded MS-66RB by PCGS. This is an example of a wonder-coin! It recently sold for $55,000 by us.