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1900 Double Eagle, PR67 Cameo
Tied for Numerically Finest Graded

1900 $20 PR67 Cameo NGC. CAC. This PR67 Cameo NGC-graded piece is tied with one other submission at that service for the numerically finest 1900-dated double eagle certified at either NGC or PCGS. There are none finer in either non-Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo. In fact, the single finest numerically graded example at PCGS is a single piece in non-Cameo PR66 grade. As is usual for high-grade proof gold and many other conditional rarities where a one-point grade jump can mean the difference of thousands of dollars' -- or tens of thousands of dollars' -- difference in price. The combined population reports of NGC and PCGS appear to be liberally sprinkled with what seem to be obvious duplications. Nonetheless, they are among the few concrete data points that numismatists rely on to try to estimate survivorship of a given coin issue. Other critical data would include, for example, how often a given issue appears at auction, or how many times dealers have seen such issues trade hands privately (the last is notoriously hard to measure unless they are specialists who write about their areas of concentration).
In the case of the 1900 proof double eagle, the original mintage -- which often does not equal the number actually sold -- was 124 pieces. The fairly high number is readily explainable by the turn-of-the-century date, so the Mint likely struck off some extra pieces. Garrett and Guth estimate in their Gold Encyclopedia, second edition, that about 50 examples survive today. The CoinFacts website on PCGS pegs the number at precisely 61 coins in all grades, of which only 15 are in Gem proof or finer condition. The online PCGS Population Report, interestingly, gives a range of 50 to 65 pieces surviving.
This Superb Gem proof is by far the highest-graded example of the issue we have ever had the privilege to offer since we began maintaining our Permanent Auction Archives in 1993; the previous pieces have topped out at the PR65 grade level, with several in lower grades.
The present coin, as mentioned, is one of the technically finest certified of the issue, and it measures up completely in the aesthetic department, as well. The surfaces are fully struck on both sides, and no visible weakness appears on the star centers, the high-point hair, or any other details on the obverse. The reverse shows full details in the shield lines, the intricate details of the eagle's inner wing feathers and claws, and all lines in the glory of rays. The bottom-right corner of the N in TWENTY is somewhat abbreviated, apparently from die preparation, as this is an anomaly that occurs on all examples we have seen.
The color is an even orange-gold throughout both sides. As demanded at this grade level, there are no obvious signs of contact, and little in the way of obvious pedigree markers for future identification. Even though this piece is certified Cameo rather than Deep or Ultra Cameo -- a trait it shares with the vast majority of other certified survivors -- the surfaces easily "fade to black" with a slight turn of the coin, and the appearance verges on an Ultra Cameo designation.
As another remarkable offering in this incredible consignment of proof Liberty Head double eagles, among the two finest graded and with the CAC green-label designation as well, we expect that this piece will perform quite well when it crosses the auction block. Astute bidders will be prepared. Census: 2 in 67 Cameo, 0 finer (2/12).
From The William D. Plumley Collection.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 26EM, PCGS# 89116)

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Auction Dates
April, 2012
18th-22nd Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,821

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