One of Five Known 1879 Proof Eagles, The Garrett/Trompeter Specimen1879 PR 64 PCGS. Ex: Trompeter. Although a total of 30 specimens were struck, only five 1879 proof eagles are known today. Of this already small number, one is impounded in the Smithsonian Institution as part of the U.S. Mint Collection and another is part of the American Numismatic Society's holdings. The final three pieces are currently in private hands and are, therefore, the only 1879 proof eagles available to modern collectors.
The first of these coins was once part of the F. C. C. Boyd Collection and was offered in the January 1946 Numismatic Gallery World's Greatest Collection Sale, the March 1948 Numismatic Gallery Memorable Sale, and the 1968 ANA Sale. It then occupied a place in the assembled 1879 proof set of a prominent Florida dealer. This specimen has since traded hands, its various owners submitting it for grading several times and inflating the population reports to an erroneous total of 8 specimens. The coin was once graded PR 64 by PCGS and now resides in an NGC PR 64 Cameo holder.
The second coin first surfaced in Stack's October 1970 sale of the Massachusetts Historical Society Collection. Offered as lot 955, it was purchased by Harry W. Bass for the sum of $1,000. Graded PR 64 by PCGS, this specimen reappeared as lot 1571 in Bowers and Merena's October 1999 sale of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection.
The final 1879 proof eagle in private hands was obtained by T. Harrison Garrett directly from the Philadelphia Mint on September 4, 1879. The coin was offered by Bowers and Ruddy as lot 1675 in the October 1980 Garrett III Sale, where it realized $34,000. It next appeared as lot 1454 in Stack's portion of Auction '84, where it was purchased by Ed Trompeter. Obtained by Heritage following our record breaking purchase of the Ed Trompeter Estate in August 1998, this coin shows a very low date and floating hair curls at the back of Liberty's head--both of which are diagnostic of the issue. The reverse is that of 1876-1878 and was destroyed following the 1879 proof delivery.
The present near-Gem exhibits razor sharp definition throughout, a feature that probably resulted from the strong impression that the working die received from the hub. The devices are frosted and contrast nicely with the deeply mirrored fields. The predominantly smooth surfaces are a few wispy hairlines away from a full Gem grade, and a small lint mark (as struck) emanates from the obverse rim below star 1and is noted as a pedigree marker. Pleasing yellow-gold coloration rounds out this coin's list of memorable qualities. An opportunity for the advanced gold collector that may not come around again for several years.
Ex: Garrett Collection Sale (Bowers & Ruddy, 10/80), lot 1675, where it realized $34,000; Auction '84 (Stack's, 7/84), lot 1454; Ed Trompeter Estate (8/98); Heritage Rare Coin Galleries. (NGC ID# 28FH, PCGS# 8819)
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