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Elusive PR64 Cameo 1886 Twenty
Strong Contrast and Orange-Peel Texture

1886 $20 PR64 Cameo NGC. CAC. The 1886 proof Liberty Head double eagle is one of the most elusive issues in the U.S. gold series, and the issue poses a unique challenge for date collectors. Only 1,000 business-strike double eagles were struck at the Philadelphia Mint that year, and the branch mints produced no coins of this denomination. The New Orleans Mint was devoting all its resources to producing Morgan dollars, and the Carson City Mint was inactive during this period.
The reasons for the lack of double eagle coinage at the San Francisco facility are unclear, but that institution, which usually produced large quantities of twenty dollar pieces, failed to coin a single specimen in 1886. Perhaps the small production of regular-issue double eagles led to the generous proof mintage of 106 pieces in 1886, as the Mint anticipated more collector demand for the date. However, it seems unlikely that collectors responded in kind, as only 20-25 coins can be accounted for today. Clearly, many examples remained unsold and were melted after the close of the year. The small supply of 1886 double eagles available to collectors has been further reduced by the donation of several examples to public institutions over the years. There are two coins in the Smithsonian, one from the original Mint Cabinet, received from the coiner in 1886, and another from the Lilly Collection, donated in 1968. The ANS also has a specimen, donated by J.P. Morgan in 1908.
The present coin displays the dramatic black-on-gold flash expected of a PR64 Cameo specimen. The brightly reflective fields also show the popular orange-peel effect found on the best proofs of the 1880s and '90s. The surfaces are an attractive greenish-gold, and the devices are fully brought up. Census: 7 in 64 Cameo, 4 finer (11/10).
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: P4) (PCGS# 89102)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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