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Sole Collectible Proof 1850 Gold Dollar
An 'Old Friend' Returns

1850 G$1 PR60 PCGS. Friday, February 3, 1995, Long Beach, CA. Lot 5301, an 1850 gold dollar described as a "possible proof," comes up for auction. It starts a bidding war. The winner walks away with the coin for $7,480, a staggering sum for what was then a controversial piece. Walter Breen was on the record as proclaiming the one-time existence of a gold proof set for 1850, citing correspondence from Mint Director Robert M. Patterson, but the set and all coins in it were thought long-lost. Though a number of numismatic experts -- including "Jeff Garrett, Art Kagin, Julian Leidman, Jim Halperin, Sal Fusco, and John Pittman" -- believed the lot to be a proof gold dollar, none of the major grading services of the time (ANACS, NGC, and PCGS) would certify it as such.
Time, of course, has vindicated the winning bidder and all the underbidders who drove this coin to its impressive final price. PCGS came around and certified the coin as PR60, and Jeff Garrett went on to write the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins with Ron Guth, in which they included the following notes about proof 1850 gold dollars:

"The only 1850 gold dollar that can lay claim to Proof status was last sold in 1995. The coin is fully mirrored and extremely well struck. There are scattered lint marks that would lend credence to die polish. Unfortunately, the coin has been lightly burnished at one time. Another example is rumored to exist in a museum collection in France."

Unless that French museum decides to deaccession its rumored proof 1850 gold dollar or another example emerges from the woodwork, this is the sole proof 1850 gold dollar that is available to collectors. Though hairlined, its reddish-gold surfaces gleam with deep and reflective luster. Of note on the dies is a brief web of small cracks through the end of UNITED and the start of STATES on the reverse; depressions that can serve to identify this piece in the future include a lint mark between the I of UNITED and the rim as well as a narrow rectangular depression that appears as a horizontal "dash" to the left of the 1 on the reverse.
More than 17 years have passed since this coin last appeared at auction. It seems all but certain that the underbidders will have a long time to regret this coin getting away. Bid accordingly.
Ex: Long Beach (Heritage, 2/1995), lot 5301, uncertified but offered as "MS63 Cleaned," realized $7,480; later, Park Avenue Collection.(Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# 2WDR, PCGS# 7593)

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Auction Dates
October, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 980

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