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1874 PR66 Ultra Cameo Quarter Eagle
The Finest Known, Extremely Rare
Ex: Amon Carter

1874 $2 1/2 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Ex: Amon Carter. The 1874 quarter eagle is rarely seen in any format. Even as a circulation strike only 3,920 pieces were struck. And as a proof a mere 20 pieces were produced. Of that number the grading services (combined) have certified 5 as non-Cameo, 3 as Cameo, and 6 as Deep/Ultra Cameo. This is the finest example known of this major rarity.
The rarity of the 1874 proof quarter eagle was recognized in 1986 by Paul Taglione. At that time he wrote a passage that is as relevant today as it was then:

"The Proof 1874 Quarter-Eagle is one of the great 'only-20-struck' rarities in the Gold Proof series. Only in recent years has the Proof begun to receive the attention so amply deserved by its rarity as market students and participants come to better realize that business strikes and Proofs are separate categories. With this realization comes the recognition that a Proof striking of a particular date might very well be a great rarity even in the absence of a corresponding level of rarity in the business strike of that date."

Of course, the rarity of proofs and collectibility in their own right was not lost on all collectors. Harry Bass made a study of die varieties of proofs and his notes are recorded for his proof in his collection that was sold in 2000. But very few examples seem to have survived. An early indication of this issue's rarity is a snippet from the Woodin Sale (Elder, 1911), where Thomas Elder wrote: "Extremely rare in this preservation, and seldom offered. Adams does not list it."
We suspect that no more than 10 individual coins are known today. The population data almost immediately eliminates two of the 14 coins certified: All three of the Cameo coins are PR64, strongly suggesting one coin was submitted three times and the duplicate submissions were not removed from the data. Garrett-Guth came to the same conclusion about the number known and they have interesting comments about the issue, including: "The Proof 1874 quarter eagle is one of the authors' favorite dates in the Liberty Head quarter eagle series. ... usually only available when great collections are sold."
That was certainly the case when Amon Carter's proof was sold in 1984. The surfaces are remarkably well preserved with deeply mirrored fields and equally thick mint frost over the devices, the combination creating the Ultra Cameo effect. With the aid of a loupe one can see both light die striations and orange-peel effect in the fields. There are just a few microscopic breaks in the luster over Liberty's chin and eyebrow, but there are no contact marks or planchet flaws that would aid in pedigreeing this magnificent rarity.
Ex: Amon Carter (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 562.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 287V, PCGS# 97900)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 6
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