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Important Gem Proof 1867 Liberty Double Eagle, Ex: Trompeter1867 $20 PR 65 Cameo NGC. In the years following the Civil War coin collecting in the United States was a small but growing pastime that was almost exclusively limited to a small network of dealers and collectors in the Northeast. Collectors in 1867 were most likely to be pursuing early coppers such as Colonials, half cents, or large cents. Indeed, only a handful of these fledgling numismatists were inclined to purchase and had the financial means to acquire annual proof sets that extended beyond the current minor coinage. The few sets of proof gold coinage that were obtained from the Mint during this time period were often broken up and sold individually in the following decades, or during downturns in the economy were used as circulating medium when their owner could no longer afford to hold aside the large face value that gold coins represented. Today, many of these pieces are virtually indistinguishable from their circulation counterparts. In fact, debate over whether a circulated Philadelphia gold coin is a business strike or a proof is a fairly regular occurrence in these offices.
Only 50 proof double eagles were produced in 1867, half of which were delivered on March 5 and the other 25 pieces on July 2. The number of survivors is believed to number no more than a dozen coins. Akers suggests that many of the 50 pieces struck went unsold at year's end and were subsequently melted. As with all other double eagles of this period, 1867 proof twenties are exceedingly rare, and the splendid preservation of this specimen along with its impeccable pedigree place it in a category all its own.
The digits used in the date are taken from the silver dollar logotype. The date is placed high in the exergual field with the 1 close to the bust. An extra outline around the bust of Liberty is broken just above the 18 in the date, and extra outlines surround the inner points of all the peripheral obverse stars. The denticles are well apart except in the area of the date, where they are minutely closer than elsewhere. A tiny Mint-made dash (die scratch) is noted just to the right of star 8. On the reverse, a small area of incomplete die polish is seen to the left and right at the top of the first vertical stripe in the shield. The middle arrowshaft is weak and wavy from die polishing. The lowest arrowhead touches the scroll, and the tip of the left (facing) wing just touches the E in UNITED. The denticles on the reverse are well spaced on the bottom half of that side, with incomplete die polish noted between the denticles over NITED STATES OF.
The visual impression left by this proof double eagle is simply astonishing. The fields sparkle with intense, deeply mirrored reflectivity, and close examination reveals the fine, orange-peel texture often seen on 19th century proof gold. The devices are thickly frosted and are set against the limitless mirrored fields, yielding a profound two-toned cameo effect. We seen no superficial flaws on either side of this remarkable piece. For pedigree identification, the only reliable markers we see are three tiny ones that originated at the Mint some 133 years ago: on the obverse, a tiny planchet flake is noted by star 3; set in the field equidistant between the B in LIBERTY and stars 7 and 8 is a minute lintmark; and a small, vertical streak of grease that was struck into the coin, located on the upper portion of Liberty's neck.
The offering of this 1867 proof double eagle presents an extraordinary opportunity. Even though estimates run as high as a dozen pieces extant, only six specimens have been certified to date (5/00) by the major certification services. This is the only certified Gem, and none are finer. It took Ed Trompeter many years to assemble his high grade set of proof U.S. gold, and once this piece is sold it may be many years before it reappears on the numismatic marketplace.
Ex: Major William Boerum Wetmore (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/27-28/1906); Clapp; Eliasberg (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/82), lot 918, where it realized $44,000; Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof U.S. Gold. (NGC ID# 26DK, PCGS# 9082)
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