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Proof-Only Cameo Gem 1887 Double Eagle A Landmark Rarity Within the Series

1887 $20 PR65 Cameo NGC. If the 1849 pattern is excluded, the 1887 is one of the three proof-only dates within the Liberty double eagle series. The proof mintage of 121 pieces is misleadingly high, since far fewer examples are known today. NGC has certified 12 pieces, and PCGS has encapsulated another 19 pieces. Since the two major grading services have been in business for 20 years, there has been ample time for several of these coins to get resubmitted, and most major collections have by now been certified. Breen's estimate of 20 to 25 pieces is likely accurate. What happened to the rest of the mintage? It is possible that a small quantity was melted by the mint as unsold. In addition, it must have been a temptation for collectors and their heirs to simply spend the coin, since the face value of 20 dollars went a long way during one of the country's economic panics. Large denomination gold coins were seldom collected by date prior to the 1940s, and the enormous premiums given to proof gold coins today did not exist in the 19th century. PCGS has certified two pieces in circulated grades, one each as AU50 and AU53. Other examples likely remained in circulation until Roosevelt's gold recall, which swept in a large percentage of all the double eagles ever struck.
This pleasing specimen has a penetrating strike, with essentially complete detail within Liberty's hair to the right of the ear. The glassy fields are beautifully smooth, and the portrait exhibits impressive frost. Subtle aqua and tan tints on the reverse further confirm the originality. While many collectors over the years have begun a collection of Liberty double eagles, only a handful of collectors, such as Eliasberg and Trompeter, have managed to string together lengthy date runs of proofs. All proof double eagles are both rare and desirable, but the proof-only issues are subject to even greater demand, since they provide the only means of obtaining the date. A Cameo Gem specimen, such as the present coin, may not appear again at auction for many years, and the opportunity is fleeting.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 26E8, PCGS# 89103)

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Auction Dates
January, 2007
3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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