1846 Three-Piece Gold Proof Set, Each PR64 Cameo
1846 Three-Piece Gold Proof Set, Each PR64 Cameo, Formerly Part
of the Pittman Complete Proof Set. U.S. proof gold coinage of
the 1858-1915 era is the crème de la crème of American
numismatics, among the most desirable (and expensive) coin series
that advanced collectors can attempt. The year 1858 is the line of
demarcation for U.S. proof sets, the year that the Mint under the
leadership of Director James Ross Snowden began widely marketing
current proof sets of each year's annual coinage for sale to the
collecting public. After 1915, of course, the classic period of
proof coinage ended, as the nation became embroiled in a global
Formerly Part of the Pittman Complete Proof Set
While the proof coinage of the post-1858 era is rare overall, particularly for gold coins, the few proof coins known of the pre-1858 era are far rarer still. Any proof sets of the pre-1858 vintage are of the highest order of rarity. Generally the Mint's annual practice during this era, as far as can be determined, was produce complete presentation sets of the copper and silver coinage--possibly only a couple of dozen sets, although no mintage figures were kept. To this total would be added a handful of proof sets, perhaps four or five yearly, that included the gold coins with the copper and silver pieces. Most such proof sets were likely broken up soon after purchase, with the cents being added to the proof cent collection, the dimes added to the proof dime collection, and so forth.
For the present 1846 three-piece gold coin set, we estimate that a maximum of only four or five examples of each denomination survive today. The gold pieces were originally offered as part of a complete 10-piece proof set by 19th century dealer Ed Frossard (11/4/1892), passing eventually to collector John Jay Pittman. Pittman also possessed complete proof sets dated 1843, 1844, and 1845, which he exhibited many times and was inordinately proud of.
Today's collectors have a chance to make these incredibly rare ex: Pittman 1846 gold coins part of their collections, and to enjoy the same pride of ownership that Pittman displayed. Offered as individual lots, the set includes:
The Pittman 1846 Quarter Eagle, PR64 Cameo
Possibly the Finest Available
1846 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle PR64 Cameo NGC. Ex: Pittman. This piece, like its two companion gold coins that follow, was offered as part of John Jay Pittman's original 1846 10-piece proof set in the case of issue (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1712. The set sold for $522,500, a momentous price for well over a decade ago. The set had a long history, appearing for the first time at auction in 19th century dealer Ed Frossard's November 4, 1892 sale. Those two auction appearances represent the sole known 1846 proof sets including the gold pieces.
This is the first time that Heritage has had the privilege of offering a proof 1846 quarter eagle in any grade. An incredibly rare issue, it today survives only the extent of only four or five pieces, two in museum collections (the Smithsonian and American Numismatic Society). PCGS has certified a single example in PR65; we are unsure that it does not duplicate the present piece. The present coin, certified PR64 Cameo, is possibly the finest available in the marketplace (although it may take years before another proof example crosses the auction block).
The 1846 quarter eagle is a rare coin even as a business strike, where the few Mint State examples we have offered in the past decade--mostly from MS61 to MS63--regularly bring well up into the five-figure range. Only 21,598 business strikes were produced, and most examples found are well-circulated.
The proof mintage of the 1846 quarter eagle, like that for most pre-1858 U.S. coins, is unknown but incredibly small. With the present coin one of only two or three in private hands, the importance of this offering can hardly be exaggerated. The bold field-device contrast is the first noticeable attribute, with a full strike throughout and excellent preservation. Rich, intense yellow-gold coloration completes the appeal. Census: 1 in 64 Cameo, 0 finer (12/10).
--PR65 PCGS. PCGS has certified an example in PR65, although we can find no auction records. This may duplicate one of the pieces below.
--PR64 Cameo. Part of a complete original cased proof set complete with gold, the only one known. Ed Frossard (11/4/1892); Numismatic Gallery (1949); John J. Pittman; Pittman Collection (Akers, 5/1998), lot 1712, realized $522,500 for the set. The present example.
--PR63 Cameo uncertified. W.B. Wetmore (Chapman, 1906); John S. Jenks (Henry Chapman, 12/1921), lot 5810; John H. Clapp; John M. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis Eliasberg ("U.S. Gold," Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 136; Ed Trompeter; Dennis Mendelson Collection (Superior Galleries, 2/1991), lot 2667.
--Superb Proof. Smithsonian Institution.
--Proof. American Numismatic Society.(Registry values: P8) (PCGS# 87872)
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