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1865 Double Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo
Finest of Seven Known
Only Five in Private Hands

1865 $20 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. The Mint recorded a proof mintage of 25 double eagles in 1865, and about one-third of those coins survive today, including two examples in the Smithsonian Institution. The present example is the finest known from a total population of seven coins, with just five available to collectors. This is only the second time that we have offered a proof in any of our auctions over the last 20 years. We sold a PR64 Cameo example from the Henry Miller Collection in our auction of January 2011. A dozen grading events have been processed by NGC and PCGS (3/14): PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC, PR66 Cameo NGC, PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS, PR65 Cameo NGC (2), PR65 PCGS, PR64 Cameo NGC (3), and PR64 PCGS (3).

The obverse die of these proofs was also used for the 1865 With Motto transitional pattern, actually struck many years later for sale as a collector's item. That piece combined this obverse die with a reverse die used for Type Two proofs. The first appearance of that reverse die is unknown.

In his auction analysis of the double eagles, published three decades ago in 1982, David Akers estimated that only seven or eight examples survived from the 25 coin mintage. Careful study of auction catalogs and other appearances yields the following census of seven different examples:

PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Stack's (5/1974), lot 522; Allison Park Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 8/2004), lot 1102. The present coin and the finest known.
PR65 NGC. James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922); John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg Estate (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 913; Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, privately.
PR64 Uncertified. Garrett Collection; Johns Hopkins University (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1980), lot 790.
PR64 Cameo NGC. Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1375.
PR64 Cameo NGC. T. Henry Allen Collection (Stack's, 2/1977), lot 1011; Henry Miller Collection (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5279
PR64 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
PR63 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.

The roster includes auction appearances from the last 40 years.

Earlier Auction Appearances
Jerome Kern (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 601 unplated.
Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 690, plated but unmatched.
William C. Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1257, unplated.
Boyd Collection (World's Greatest Collection, Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 868, unplated.
Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 144 unplated.

The coloration of this piece is the first trait that grabs the viewer's attention, although the marvelous contrast comes up a moment later. We would describe the color as simply orange, not yet veering lighter towards yellow or gold, not yet deeper towards reddish. It is a trifle lighter here or deeper there, but the color is a beautiful and remarkably consistent attribute. The even color and the depth of the mirrors in the fields complement the thick mint frost that appears on the central devices of each side. The frost is deeper on the obverse peripheral stars than on the reverse peripheral lettering, but this is a minor quibble on a coin of such high quality and excellent preservation. A couple of tiny contact marks in the obverse field, out from Liberty's nose, are minuscule in the extreme but are the only visible signs of contact on the obverse. The reverse shows a small nick above the T in TWENTY and a light graze beneath the D of UNITED. The proof strike is full throughout both sides, showing no visible weakness.

NGC and PCGS have graded 81 Type One proof double eagles dated from 1859 to 1865. Among those coins are 16 Deep or Ultra Cameo proofs. The best ones are 1861 and 1864 double eagles certified PR67 Ultra Cameo, and this 1865 graded PR66 Ultra Cameo. There are also four different PR66 Cameo examples, dated 1859, 1860, 1863, and 1865. The type collector, double eagle aficionado, or proof gold specialist will do well to pursue this exceptional Premium Gem Ultra Cameo proof.
From The Charles G. Wright Family Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 26DG, PCGS# 99077)

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Auction Dates
April, 2014
23rd-27th Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,033

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