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Gem Deep Cameo Proof 1897 Double Eagle
1897 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS Secure. Although the reported
proof mintage of Liberty Head double eagles in 1897 was a nominal
86 pieces, a far smaller number survive today as recognizable
examples of the issue. The PCGS CoinFacts website estimates that
only 35 examples survive today as proofs, of which only 10 are in
Gem condition or better.
Tied for Numerically Finest at PCGS
For the first few decades of their existence, any proof Liberty Head double eagle was a considerable sum of money, likely to be spent when "hard times came a-knockin' "; the average U.S. worker in 1900 made 22 cents an hour, so a double eagle was the equivalent of 91 hours of work in that year. Even afterward, the top-grade survivors had to endure the Depression, two World Wars, and other public and private calamities; sometimes examples were undoubtedly lost due to simple carelessness or attrition, via improper storage or simply by being lost.
The present piece is tied with two other submissions in PR65 Deep Cameo at PCGS, and there are none finer. In fact, this example is among the finest certified at PCGS regardless of contrast level, as there are no Gem Cameos or finer, and PCGS has seen only an additional two PR65 non-Cameo coins, making five submissions in all tied for the numerically finest grade.
This coin exhibits profound mirroring in the fields and the expected thick mint frost on the devices front and back, producing the coveted gold-on-black effect that collectors prize, especially among the Liberty Head double eagles. The strike is full. There are no distracting signs of contact, but a tiny dark toning spot equidistant between stars 1 and 2 may provide a reliable pedigree identifier.
It appears that only a single time previously have we offered a Deep Cameo PCGS example in this same grade, PR65, a piece in our November 2003 Signature (Heritage), lot 7976, which realized a remarkably strong $72,450. Due to the low frequency with which coins of such quality are offered, we expect strong bidding when this piece crosses the block. Population: 3 in 65 Deep Cameo, 0 finer (2/12).
Ex: Gaston DiBello Collection (Stack's, 5/1970), lot 125; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 1920.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 26EJ, PCGS# 99113)
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