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1887 Double Eagle, PR65 Deep Cameo
Proof-Only Issue, Ex: Dr. Loewinger
Sole Finest Certified at PCGS

1887 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. The U.S. Mint slightly redesigned the Liberty Head double eagles starting in 1876, releasing the modified design for circulating coinage and regular proof coinage in 1877. Mint Engraver William Barber repositioned the head on the obverse so that it divides the first six peripheral stars from the last seven. On the reverse the denomination was changed from TWENTY D. (as in the 1866-1876 With Motto issues) to TWENTY DOLLARS. Evidence of these transitional coinages is provided by the Judd-1488 to Judd-1492 pattern issues, which exist in gold and copper alloy. On the Judd-1488 and -1489 pieces, dated 1876, the head divides the stars as noted above, but the denomination is still TWENTY D. The Judd-1490 through -1492 patterns show the obverse with slight differences from the regular issues of 1877-1907. The letters in LIBERTY are a bit further from the beads in the coronet, and the date 1876 is set slightly lower in the die. The reverse of the Judd-1490 through -1492 are in the regular-issue style as adopted in 1877, and different from the Judd-1488 and -1489 pieces. The TW in the denomination just nearly touches the scroll bearing E PLURIBUS UNUM. The whole Heraldic Eagle design is larger than on the Judd-1488 and -1489, and to accommodate the increased size, the peripheral legends are in a slightly smaller font, with the letters closer to each other and nearer to the rim. Despite the larger overall size of the central design, the glory of rays is noticeably smaller, and repositioned so that light does not nearly transfix the first S in STATES. William Barber's son Charles made a minor tweak to the proof double eagles from 1900 to 1907, smoothing the eagle's neck.
The present coin represents the final major Type Three design as produced until superseded by the Saint-Gaudens double eagle coinage of 1907 through 1933. While considerably more proof specimens are encountered than of the 1866-1876 Type Two (TWENTY D., With Motto) pieces and the 1849-1876 Type One (TWENTY D., No Motto) coinage, proofs of the Type Three are still quite rare. The 1887 is also one of the proof-only issues in the series; no business strike were produced. Likely two dozen to 30 examples survive today in all grades, according to PCGS. That service as of this writing (2/12) has certified 18 submissions of the 1887 proof double eagles in all grades. The present piece is the finest certified Deep Cameo at PCGS, and the only PCGS Gem Deep Cameo. NGC has certified four pieces as PR65 Ultra Cameo or finer.
This coin, provenanced to the former collection of Dr. Robert Loewinger, an expert on proof U.S. gold, shows the gold-on-black contrast that is so desired (and admired) in proof gold coinage, here portrayed to maximum effect on these largest and most impressive of U.S. gold coin denominations. Extensive scrutiny, including under a high-powered loupe (required to make the attribution below) leads one to the inescapable conclusion that this coin appears to be high-end and conservatively graded, although it does reveal only these minute pedigree markers that enable the below identification. Two tiny, dotlike indentations -- mentioned strictly for matching purposes, as they are barely noticeable and completely undistracting -- are noted on the obverse. One is in the field near the southwest point of star 3; the second is in the field about midway between stars 12 and 13, slightly southwest of star 12 and nearly due north of star 13. Liberty's cheek is smooth and clean, and all devices are thickly frosted, with profoundly mirrored looking-glass fields. This coin represents a significant opportunity to obtain what must be among the most aesthetically pleasing of U.S. coins, a coin that is nearly unimprovable both from a numerical grade perspective as well as a desirability point of view.
Depicted in Proof Gold Coinage of the United States by Robert J. Loewinger, M.D., on page 72 to illustrate the Longacre-Barber design Liberty Head, Motto on Reverse double eagle coinage of 1877 to 1907.
Ex: Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3145, which realized $161,000.
From The William D. Plumley Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 26E8, PCGS# 99103)

View all of [The William D. Plumley Collection ]

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Auction Dates
April, 2012
18th-22nd Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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