Extremely Rare 1878 Double Eagle, PR64 Deep Cameo1878 $20 PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. The date is low in the field and slants slightly up to the right, with the left base of the 1 over the right side of a dentil. The J in J.B.L. is over the center of the first 8. The reverse die is well executed, with a diagonal die line through the base of the P in PLURIBUS to the top of the scroll between the E and P.
A truly amazing Choice Deep Cameo proof double eagle, this piece has extraordinary orange-gold surfaces and deeply mirrored fields around highly lustrous, frosty devices, creating excellent aesthetic appeal. All design elements are boldly detailed from the careful proof production. Once this formidable rarity is sold, the opportunity to acquire a duplicate may be a long time away, regardless of the amount of money available. For rarities such as this proof twenty, finding the coin is the objective, and the price paid will be unimportant.
This extremely rare proof double eagle survives from a minuscule mintage of just 20 pieces that year. Few numismatists had a desire, or finances, to collect large proof gold coins at that time, so the mintage reflects the small number of collectors who actually did pursue such numismatic delicacies. Today, approximately half of the original mintage survives, including an example in the American Numismatic Society collection, and another in the Smithsonian Institution.
An exhaustive study of proof specimens that have appeared in past auctions, one of the niceties of numismatic study, yields a roster of exactly 11 pieces that we believe are different. Two of those are in museums as noted, and two others are impaired, leaving just seven attractive proof pieces available to collectors. Of those seven, the Eliasberg piece appears to be the finest known, followed by the present coin as second finest known. Our complete roster of all 11 examples is presented here, with the understanding that there is the possibility that one or two of the following examples may be duplicates. Currently, NGC and PCGS have certified a total of 14 submissions, showing with certainty the existence of resubmissions. Certified grades include the following: PR66 Deep Cameo (1), PR65 Cameo (2), PR64 Deep Cameo (7), PR64 Cameo (1), PR64 (1), PR63 (1), and PR62 Cameo (1).
1. PR67. David S. Wilson (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907); Clapp Collection (1942); Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 948; later, Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Galleries.
2. PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. N.M. Kaufman Collection; RARCOA (8/1978), lot 927; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 968; Superior (6/1987), lot 2881; Bowers and Merena (8/1999), lot 450; Superior (6/2000), lot 2351; Heritage (8/2004), lot 7691. The present specimen.
3. PR64 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
4. PR64. Superior (6/1987), lot 2882.
5. PR64 PCGS. Bowers and Merena (8/1996), lot 424.
6. PR63 Star Cameo NGC. Superior (7/2005), lot 585; Superior (5/2006), lot 1257; Heritage (8/2006), lot 5690; Heritage (1/2007), lot 3754.
7. PR63 PCGS. Stack's (6/6/1973); Harry W. Bass, Jr. (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 1868.
8. Proof. Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 458.
9. Proof. American Numismatic Society.
10. PR50. Heritage (5/2000), lot 6868.
11. PR40. Heritage (10/1994), lot 7187.
Ex: N.M. Kaufman Collection; RARCOA (8/1978), lot 927; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 968; Superior (6/1987), lot 2881; Bowers and Merena (8/1999), lot 450; Superior (6/2000), lot 2351; Heritage (8/2004), lot 7691.(Registry values: P6) (PCGS# 99094)
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