About The Anchors Aweigh Collection of Prooflike Gold
The March 3, 1849 Act of Congress authorized the gold dollar and double eagle as additional denominations to accompany the quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle denominations that were authorized in 1792, and again in 1837, when the standard purity of gold coins was adjusted to 90% pure, 10% alloy. The three dollar gold piece was added to the Mint's gold coinage lineup four years later when Congress passed the Act of February 21, 1853. All of the provisions of the 1849 Act were granted to the new denomination. Those other provisions included the weights and permitted deviations from the weights for the various gold denominations.
Gold coins of all denominations were minted in two formats, circulation strikes and proofs. The proof coins were issued in extremely limited quantities for advanced collectors, while the circulation strikes were issued for commerce. Those circulation strikes included occasional examples with fully mirrored fields, coins that we now call "prooflike." They have nearly all of the same characteristics as proofs, and retain virtually the same beauty as proof coins, usually only distinguishable from proofs due to the sharpness of detail. The Anchors Aweigh Collection presents 16 splendid prooflike gold coins including 12 three-dollar pieces, a gold dollar, a Liberty eagle, and two Liberty double eagles. The highlight of the collection is an 1868 three dollar gold piece that is certified MS67 Prooflike NGC. Please take a moment to locate and consider all these wonderful coins listed in other areas of this auction.
Prooflike coins were the result of several circumstances. Some were coined from newly created dies that were polished during the engraving process. Others were coined from resurfaced dies that may have received clash marks and then were resurfaced or lapped to remove the clash marks. That process also polished the die surface. Additional prooflike coins were actually struck from dies that were originally created for proofs. The difference in those coins is that proofs received multiple strikes on specially prepared planchets, while later prooflike pieces received a single strike on normal planchets.
Regardless of which production method resulted in these prooflike coins, the polished die finish only remained for a small number of strikes. With each successive strike, the die polish would slightly diminish, and eventually no die polish would remain. The rarity of prooflike coins is easy to quantify, as NGC provides Prooflike and Deep Prooflike designations. That service has certified 21,563 Mint State three dollar gold pieces, including only 252 Prooflike examples and six Deep Prooflike coins. For the entire series from 1854 to 1889, only one coin in 83 receives the special designation.
Many collectors dream of the acquisition of 19th century proof gold coins, although few can achieve that dream. For others, the opportunity to acquire lovely prooflike examples provides a solution to that nearly impossible dream. For three dollar gold pieces, 27 different issues have received the Prooflike designation at NGC, offering collectors a long-term challenge.