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Spectacular Deep Cameo Gem Proof 1883 Double Eagle--An Upper Condition Census Example of This Major Double Eagle Rarity

1883 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. On average only one 1883 proof double eagle appears at public auction each year. This is a widely recognized and highly respected issue that is the first of three very rare, proof-only double eagles produced during the 1880s. It is not quite as rare as the 1884 but it is decidedly rarer than the 1887. As such, it is the second rarest Liberty Head double eagle (not including the 1861 Paquet reverse), in terms of the total number that exist in all grades.
While 92 proofs were struck, it appears that 40 or so of these were never released and were later melted. It is more likely that 50 or so were made available to collectors and, of these, an estimated 15 to 20 pieces are known today. This includes three or four impounded in museum collections and a small number that are impaired as a result of poor handling. Proof strikings are characterized by the 1 in the date being about centered between the bust and border; the left base of the 1 is about over the right edge of a dentil; the right edge of the 3 is about in line with the right side of the lowest curl; the back of the eagle's neck is rough; and the fleur de lis below the beak is fragmented.
This is a magnificent coin that displays very deep, one might say "black" mirrored fields. The devices are heavily frosted and yield a strong two-toned effect against the unfathomably deep fields. A slight orange-peel effect is seen in the fields also, a common trait on proof gold from the last quarter of the 19th century. There are only the most minute post-striking defects on either side, any of which will require magnification to see. The most distinguishing feature that can be used for a pedigree identifier is a tiny alloy speck on Liberty's nose just in front of the eye. An extremely rare coin to locate in any condition, this piece is near the top of the Condition Census--it is, in fact, tied for second finest certified among Deep Cameo examples. (#99099) (Registry values: P9) (PCGS# 99099)

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Auction Dates
January, 2004
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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