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Gem Proof Cameo 1881 Two and a Half
Low Mintage of 51 Pieces
Only One Finer Coin at PCGS

1881 $2 1/2 PR65 Cameo PCGS. CAC. Only 51 proof Liberty quarter eagles were struck in 1881, making the issue rare in all grades today. The tiny mintage actually represents an increase over the production of previous years, but it is far smaller than the figures for any subsequent year except 1889. The demand for this issue has always been heavily impacted by the meager output of business strikes of the date, as only 640 regular-issue coins were minted. In their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth estimate only 20 examples of this rare proof date remain extant, and a number of those are impaired. Walter Breen noted the difficulty of locating a high-quality specimen and called the 1881 "one of the most undervalued of the quarter eagles of this decade."
Breen notes that 40 quarter eagles were delivered on March 26, 1881 as part of six-piece gold proof sets, the remaining 11 coins being delivered throughout the year as single pieces. Apparently none went unsold, an unusual occurrence in the 1880s. The proof sets began appearing at auction at least as early as the Heman Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), where a "Splendid proof set. 6 pieces." was offered in lot 956.
The coin offered here is a delightful Gem, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements and deeply mirrored fields that produce a stunning black-on-gold cameo flash when the coin is tilted in the light. The light yellow-gold surfaces show only the most insignificant signs of contact and this coin displays outstanding visual appeal. Population: 1 in 65 Cameo, 1 finer (8/12).
From The Nottingham Collection.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 3XP2, PCGS# 87907)

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Auction Dates
October, 2012
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
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