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Description

Cameo Gem Proof 1864 Quarter Eagle
Low-Mintage Civil War Date
CAC Gold Label

1864 $2 1/2 PR65 Cameo NGC. CAC Gold Label. Production of quarter eagles was limited in 1864, because of the financial stresses of the Civil War. A small mintage of 50 proof quarter eagles was accomplished, to accompany the tiny business-strike emission of 2,824 pieces. Both issues have particularly low survival rates, and David Akers calls the 1864 "one of the great rarities in the quarter eagle series." The federal government suspended specie payments during the Civil War era, and instituted a complicated and expensive ordering procedure for proof sets during the war years. Many collectors were discouraged by the cost and inconvenience these measures occasioned, and orders for proof coins dropped accordingly. It is likely that many of the 50 proof quarter eagles went unsold in 1864, and were melted after the close of the year. Other specimens were spent by their owners at face value during the hard times after the war. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth estimate only 12-18 proof 1864 quarter eagles are extant today in all grades. As rare as the proofs are, high grade business-strike examples are even more elusive, putting extreme pressure on the small supply of proof coins from date collectors.
Early auction appearances of the proof 1864 quarter eagle are difficult to locate, and many great collections of the 19th century did not include a representative of the issue. In one early appearance, the 1864 appeared as part of a six piece gold proof set, in lot 413 of the Cleneay Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890). The lot realized $70, a strong price at the time. In more recent times, Heritage has offered an example of this issue only four times in the past decade. It was the same coin being offered on all four occasions. The only other appearance we are aware of during this period was the NGC graded PR65 Ultra Cameo in lot 867 of the Kennywood Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2005). The coin realized $34,500.
The present coin is a lovely Gem Cameo proof, fully struck, with bold frosty devices. The deeply mirrored fields are a pleasing greenish-gold color, and the field-device contrast is startling. This coin has been awarded the prestigious CAC gold label. Census: 3 in 65 Cameo, 2 finer (11/10).
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 3XLB, PCGS# 87890)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
5th-9th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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