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Extremely Rare 1897 Proof Twenty

1897 $20 PR64 Cameo NGC. From a tiny proof mintage of only 86 pieces, the 1897 proof double eagle is one of the rarest issues from the turn-of-the-century era. Hard times in the financial sector, that began with the Panic of 1893, were still hanging on and probably limited the number of proof sets ordered by collectors. In the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth had this to say about the 1897 proof double eagle:

"Although the mintage of the 1897 issue is fewer than for the 1896 double eagle in Proof, the date is considerably rarer. There are just 20-25 coins known in all grades. The population numbers are higher, but these do not take into account resubmissions. There are also several mishandled examples represented on the population reports. After 1897, Proof double eagles become much more available. The 1897 issue is underrated."

A search of auction records reveals only two prior appearances of 1897 proof Cameo double eagles at Heritage since 1990. NGC has graded only six 1897 double eagles in the PR64 Cameo category, and three finer; while PCGS has certified four example at this level, with one finer (2/09). Of course, these figures may include resubmissions.
The present coin is a visual treat, with bright yellow-gold surfaces and thick mint frost on the devices. The fields display the distinctive "orange peel" quality that is characteristic of proofs of the late 19th century. Only a few light field marks keep this specimen out of the Gem category. Overall eye appeal is outstanding on this rare numismatic treasure.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 26EJ, PCGS# 89113)

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Auction Dates
March, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
Members Tracking: N/A
Page Views: 1,145

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