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1865 Quarter Eagle, PR65 Ultra Cameo
Classic Wartime Rarity, Only 25 Struck

1865 $2 1/2 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. The Civil War era was a time characterized by economic and political uncertainty, resulting in the hoarding of all precious-metal coins. The government suspended specie payments, and no gold coins circulated at par. The government was understandably reluctant to issue gold proof sets at face value for paper money during these years, and the ordering process was both arduous and expensive. Writing to T. Harrison Garrett in February 1883, prominent coin dealer W. Elliot Woodward shed some light on the proof set situation:

"I have sets of gold proofs for 1862-'64-'65, each six pcs., par value each $41.50. They cost in gold when issued $43 each at a time when gold was worth anywhere from 1.20 to 2.85. Gold being so very dear at the time, the number issued was very limited, probably not above 1/2 a dozen, especially of '64 and '65."

Thus, we see that anyone wishing to order a gold proof set in 1865 would first have to purchase $43 face value in gold coins from a bullion dealer, because the Mint would accept only gold in payment. The bullion dealer might charge as much as $120.40 for these coins. As a result, very few proof sets were sold. Woodward's estimate of "1/2 a dozen" may be accurate as pertains to complete gold proof sets, but a few more single coins were probably ordered of the lower denominations. The reported mintage of 1865 quarter eagles was only 25 pieces, and some examples likely went unsold and were melted at year-end. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth estimate the surviving population at "fewer than 15 coins in private hands today."
The present coin is a magnificent Gem, with profound contrast between brightly mirrored fields and sharply detailed, frosty devices. The pleasing surfaces show a slight orange-peel effect in some areas, typical of proofs from the later 19th century. Only a few minor hairlines and contact marks prevent an even finer grade. Census: 2 in 65 Ultra Cameo, 2 finer (11/11).(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 287K, PCGS# 97891)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 3
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