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The Norweb PR68 Ultra Cameo 1898 Eagle, Single Finest Graded of the Entire Liberty Head Type1898 $10 PR68 Ultra Cameo NGC. Ex: Norweb. With great pride we present the highest graded proof Liberty Head eagle, another entry in our consignment of high grade 1898 gold coins from the quarter eagle through double eagle, all grading PR66 to PR68 by NGC, and all with Ultra Cameo surfaces. The recorded mintage for proof 1898 eagles is 67 pieces. The Garrett-Guth Gold Encyclopedia comments concerning this issue and this specific piece, "The 1898 eagle is one of the more common Proofs of this era, found in a wide range of grades from lightly circulated PF-58 to PF-68. In case the PF-68 number failed to impress, note that this is the only date in the entire series that has ever earned that lofty grade. The certified population ballooned in this year, doubtless because of resubmissions, but the variety of grades is so well dispersed that it is impossible to determine where the numbers have been inflated. There are probably 30 to 40 coins known today, which is still a very tiny number. The Smithsonian has two PF-64 examples, both of which are deep cameos."
Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry (Emery May Holden) Norweb were another famous "collector couple" fortunate enough to be present at the 1954 Palace Collection sale of the numismatic treasures of the deposed King Farouk of Egypt. As a young girl, Emery May Holden learned the love and lore of coins from her father, Albert Fairchild Holden, publisher of the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper and an active collector from 1910 to 1913, as well as her grandfather Liberty Holden, who had interests in mining and newspapers, and specialized in medals of George Washington. A gift of a 1795 pendant-mounted gold eagle to young Emery May from her grandfather, made when she was 11 or 12 years old in 1915, launched her lifetime of coin collecting. Many years later she and her diplomat husband resumed collecting with a vengeance, through purchases from illustrious auction sales such as the memorable King Farouk offerings. Among the more memorable coins in the massive Norweb collection, dispersed in 1987 and 1988 after the Norwebs' death through three auction sales, were: a 1913 Liberty Head nickel; an 1894-S Barber dime; an 1876-CC twenty cent piece; an 1838-O half dollar; an 1870-S Seated Liberty dollar; an 1885 Trade dollar; an 1861 P-mint Paquet Reverse double eagle; and a 1907 Ultra High Relief double eagle.
The present coin, while not as legendary as those ultra-rarities, in another way is every bit as memorable as those phenomenal specimens. This PR68 Ultra Cameo 1898 eagle is the highest graded example of the issue at either NGC or PCGS. This piece is also the single finest graded of the entire Liberty Head type at either service (11/06). A close perusal of the NGC and PCGS population data, indeed, will confirm that precious few coins of the type--numbering less than three dozen pieces--are graded PR67, a fact that makes this spectacular PR68 Ultra Cameo coin even more rare and memorable. Most of the pieces grading PR67 understandably date from 1890s and 1900s, although NGC has graded one PR67 Ultra Cameo eagle dating back to 1839! It is also noteworthy--as our spectacular run of high grade proof gold coins from 1898 bears out--that the year was an especially good one for proof gold. NGC has also graded a total of five 1898 eagles in PR67, as Cameo or Ultra Cameo.
As might be expected, the present example approaches perfection in every conceivable aspect. The fields go "black" when tilted at the proper angle with thick, frosted golden luster. Each side is nearly perfectly preserved. Like the quarter eagle from this set, this coin shows extreme orange-peel texture--only on this piece it is on the obverse rather than the reverse.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28G5, PCGS# 98838)
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