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1883-O Branch Mint Proof Dollar, PR67 Cameo
Only 12 Proofs Believed Struck
Ex: Frossard/Clapp/Eliasberg

1883-O $1 Branch Mint PR67 Cameo PCGS. CAC. VAM-11. To our knowledge, all branch mint proof 1883-O dollars are from the VAM-11 die pairing. Numerous diagnostics were recorded in 1995 when we studied the Anita Maxwell branch mint proofs, and this was subsequently published in the October 9 issue of Coin World. The most easily seen diagnostics are on the reverse, where several leaves seem to "float" on the lower left portion of the wreath, an effect caused by excessive die polishing. This vigorous die polishing gives the 1883-O proof dollars an appearance that is distinctly different from a Deep Mirror Prooflike business strike.

Fact and fiction are interwoven in the tale of the proof 1883-O dollars, stories that have been repeated so many times they become accepted as truth, even though there is no factual basis for them. The accepted version of the creation of these pieces is contained in Walter Breen's Proof Encyclopedia from 1977:

"Made for presentation to officials of some local celebration, possibly having to do with the cotton industry, though equally likely having to do with the establishment of Tulane University as the State University of Louisiana. The Superintendent of the New Orleans Mint called them proofs in AJN, 1884, p. 46. The only one I have seen 'carries its own credentials' like the 1879."

Pure invention and speculation. The only truth in Breen's statement is that the coin "carries its own credentials." There is no mention of the coins being proofs in the AJN. There is, however, a review of the Sampson sale from July 9, 1884, that essentially just repeated the description from the catalog. That catalog description reads:

"352 1883. Standard Dollar O Mint. Brilliant proof. Extremely rare. Only 12 struck."

The lot brought $10.00, a significant amount for a coin that was struck just a year previous.
While we will probably never know for certain why proof dollars were struck in New Orleans in 1883, it is abundantly evident when examining this coin that they were. This particular coin has been recognized as a proof since 1894. The surfaces are simply magnificent. The fields are deeply reflective, and the devices show a significant amount of mint frost, the combination yielding strong cameo contrast. As one would expect from a proof, the surfaces lack the coin-to-coin contact normally seen on dollars struck for circulation, most of which spent decades in bags. As a result, the surfaces of this all-brilliant dollar are quite limited when it comes to pedigree identifiers. The only two are both on the reverse, a shallow tick in the field below the E in STATES and a russet-colored planchet lamination from the right star after DOLLAR to the wreath. Exceptional quality for any proof dollar, and almost unheard of in a branch mint proof.
Acquired as a proof from Édouard Frossard, November 1894; J.M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate, 1942 to Louis Eliasberg, Sr.; Eliasberg II (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 2264, where it brought $121,000.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part III. (PCGS# 87346)

View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part III ]

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Auction Dates
April, 2013
24th-28th Wednesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 14
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