1870 Twenty Dollar, PR64 Cameo
1870 $20 Cameo PR64 NGC. CAC. Only 35 proof twenties were
struck in 1870, all of which were part of the gold proof sets
issued that year. Proofs of this date are so rare that little has
been written about them other than the mintage, estimate of
surviving examples, and diagnostics. Of the 13 examples believed
known today, three are in institutional holdings, two are in the
Smithsonian and another is in the ANS. The most complete roster of
proofs we could compile include the following:
One of the Finest of Only 10 Known Examples
1. Smithsonian. PR64 Deep Cameo.
2. Smithsonian. PR64 Deep Cameo.
3. ANS; ex: Brock.
4. Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 924; Ed Trompeter Collection.
5. Probably Ex: David S. Wilson (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 330, which brought $170 as a complete gold set; Atwater Collection (Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1262; Eliasberg; "H.R. Lee"/New Netherlands 49th Sale (10/1947), lot 119; Gaston DiBello Collection (Stack's, 5/1970), lot 1238; Bass II (Bowers and Merena, 10/99), lot 1801; 2004 ANA Auction (Heritage, 8/2004), lot 7686. PR64 Deep Cameo.
6. Heman Ely to W. Elliot Woodward, 1883; Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 434, part of an original 1870 gold proof set.
7. Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; WGC (Numismatic Gallery,1/1946), lot 873; "Memorable"/J.F. Bell (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 692.
8. Menjou (Numismatic Gallery, 6/1950), lot 1808.
9. Samuel Wolfson (Stack's, 10/1962),
A. Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 8/1995), lot 372.
The rarity of gold proofs and especially gold proof sets were recognized in 19th century auction catalogs. In the David S. Wilson Auction by Samuel Chapman (1907), the comments were made:
"These proof sets are exceedingly rare, and my estimate would be that there are not over five sets in existence of the years prior to 1890, and of some of the earlier years probably only three sets ... Each piece in proof condition is as rare as any other in the set of the year, as the proofs were only issued in sets. ... It should be borne in mind that during the Civil War and until the resumption of specie payments a large proportion of out gold was sent abroad and remelted."
Die characteristics of proof 1870 twenties have been recorded by Walter Breen and Harry Bass. Breen notes: "Rather shallow date, to left; top of 1 close to bust, left base over space but favoring left edge. Rev. Middle arrow shaftless." Harry Bass' diagnostics mentioned: "Date logotype about three times closer to the neck of Miss Liberty than to the dentils, this being noted by the position of the first digit."
The devices are heavily frosted and present a strong cameo contrast against the deeply mirrored fields. The fields show only slight evidence of the orange-peel texture usually seen on proof gold from this era, the effect being more noticeable on the reverse. Slight hairlining and light haziness on the obverse explain the grade, but there are no noticeable contact marks on either side.
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: P6) (NGC ID# 26DN, PCGS# 89085)
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