Rare 1867 Double Eagle, PR65+ Ultra Cameo
1867 $20 PR65+ Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. The 1867 proof double
eagle is a numismatic icon, from a tiny mintage of 50 pieces. Most
experts agree that many examples of this minuscule mintage were
never distributed, and probably at least half of the 1867 proof
production was melted after the end of the year. Even in much
earlier times, gold proofs of this era were extremely rare. Writing
about the gold proof set offerings in the Major William B. Wetmore
Collection in 1906, which included an example of the 1867, the
Chapman brothers reported, "These proof sets are exceedingly rare,
and our estimate would be that there are not over five sets in
existence of these dates." While proof double eagles were almost
exclusively sold as part of proof sets in the 1860s, by the time of
the Chapman's writing a number of these sets had been broken up. A
few double eagles undoubtedly survived as single pieces, in
addition to the five or so examples the Chapman's estimated in the
sets. David Akers believes as many as 10-12 pieces are extant
today. Data from the grading services indicates a slightly smaller
population, as only six coins have been certified in all grades by
NGC and PCGS combined (11/10). A roster of all examples known to us
is detailed below. Some of the earlier appearances are certainly
duplications of the citations listed in the main roster, but it is
not possible to definitively link them to the known present-day
Classic Gold Rarity, Second-Finest Certified
Fewer Than 12 Examples Known
The present coin is a magnificent high-end Gem, with razor-sharp details throughout. Fine definition is evident on Liberty's hair, and all the stars show full radials. The deeply mirrored fields display traces of the orange peel texture seen on the finest gold proofs of the 1890s. The frosty devices contrast boldly with the reflective fields to create a dramatic cameo effect. A tiny lint mark is noted on the upper right curling part of the banner on the reverse, below the stars, and to the right of the eagle's head. A few hairlines can be detected on the attractive, greenish-gold surfaces, but they do little to detract from the appeal of this spectacular piece. Currently, this coin is the only example certified in PR65+ Ultra Cameo at NGC, but one example has been graded finer, at PR66 Ultra Cameo (11/10). PCGS has graded no coin higher than PR63 (11/10).
The following roster is an expansion of earlier work done by Walter Breen and David Akers:
1. Ex: William B. Wetmore Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1906), lot 151, part of a six piece gold proof set; John M. Clapp; Louis E. Eliasberg; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 918; Ed Trompeter; Philadelphia Signature Auction (Heritage, 8/2000), lot 7574; Long Beach Signature Auction (Heritage, 6/2004), lot 6373, Realized $195,500.
2. Ex: Hebeard Collection (Harlan P. Smith, 4/1883), lot 380, part of a six piece gold proof set; T. Harrison Garrett; Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 416.
3. Ex: Johnson/Connors Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1933), lot 508; Floyd Starr; Floyd T. Starr Collection (Stack's, 10/1992), lot 1285.
4. Ex: F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 870; probably King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 181, Abe Kosoff; purchased by John Jay Pittman on 5/2/1954 for $410; John Jay Pittman Collection (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 1146; Pre-Long Beach Sale (Superior, 2/2001), lot 4674; Long Beach Signature Auction (Heritage, 10/2001), lot 9685; Santa Clara Elite Coin Auction (Superior, 7/2005), lot 576.
5. Ex: Nathan M. Kaufman Collection (Rarcoa, 8/1978), lot 920.
6. Ex: Adolphe Menjou Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 6/1950), lot 1805; possibly Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon G. Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 877.
7. Smithsonian Institution, from the Mint Cabinet.
8. Smithsonian Institution, source unknown.
9. Brock; J.P. Morgan; ANS, exhibited by the Society in the 1914 ANS Exhibition.
10. The Present Coin.
A. Heman Ely Collection (W.E. Woodward, 1/1884), lot 948, part of a six piece gold proof set.(NGC ID# 26DK, PCGS# 99082)
B. Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1990), lot 1354.
C. Thomas Cleneay Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890), lot 416, part of a six piece gold proof set.
D. David S. Wilson Collection (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 327, part of a six piece gold proof set.
E. William H. Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 1364.
F. James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 319.
G. J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 827.
H. William Cutler Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1259.
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: P6)
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