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1850 $2 1/2

1995 June Long Beach Sale #137

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Auction Ended On: Jun 1, 1995
Item Activity: 2 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Long Beach, CA
1850 PR 62 NGC. While not the most valuable coin in this stellar sale, this 1850 proof quarter eagle is undoubtedly the rarest. It is the only specimen in collector's hands, and one of only two specimens believed struck. This coin was discovered in Europe by Marc Emory in 1980 or '81. It was placed in a major gold collection in Arkansas in 1984 or '85, where it has resided since. Writing ten years ago, Paul Taglione made the following comment about this coin, "The discovery of the 1850 proof quarter eagle is one of the greatest gold discoveries in the past few decades as it put to rest a great deal of speculation about the issue's status in proof...(it) must be counted as virtually priceless today."
The late Walter Breen examined this coin at the ANA Convention in Cincinnati in the summer of 1988. He wrote a letter of certification and authenticity that accompanies the lot. This letter tells even more of the story of this fascinating coin and we quote parts of it here: "...the only one I have seen, and possibly the only one in collector's hands. This coin "carries its own credentials:" it is of the quality of striking and surface which would justify calling it a proof regardless of the date. Its brilliantly polished dies have not been seen on business strikes of 1850. National Archives records show that a full gold proof set ($1 through $20) was made up in 1850 for the Committee on the Library, from whom the set apparently went through Alexandre Vattemare to the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris (then called Bibliotheque Imperiale after Emperor Napoleon III). So far as I know this set remains there today. A second set (cent to $20, lacking the $10) reportedly turned up in Germany a few years ago and was broken up; the present coin is believed to be from that broken set. Aside from these two sets, the only other gold proofs of 1850 reported are double eagles...The importance of the present coin would be almost impossible to exaggerate."
As an identifying feature there are several small planchet flakes in the left obverse field of this coin. These are referred to in the Taglione text as "a planchet lamination in the center." There are a few hairlines in the fields on each side which account for the grade, but little else that can be considered distracting. The devices retain a small amount of mint frost and the fields show the unfathomable depth of mirrored reflectivity only seen on proofs. A light reddish patina has accrued to the surfaces also. This is an unprecedented opportunity to purchase this major gold rarity at public auction. (PCGS# 7876)

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