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1854 Three Dollar Gold, PR63 Cameo
1854 $3 PR63 Cameo PCGS. The recorded proof mintage of only
15 pieces appears to be on the low side and does not square with
the fact that two different pairs of proof dies were employed. On
one of those dies, the ES in STATES is in a straight line, and the
lettering is bolder and more deeply impressed into the die. On the
other die, the S is slightly lower than the E, and the lettering is
not so deep. While it is possible that some catastrophic die
failure occurred after one or a handful of pieces were struck, more
likely is that the recorded mintage is erroneous ... or could
restrikes have been made later?
Rare Proof From First Year of Series
Bowers' series reference offers these comments:
"On April 28, 1854, the Mint struck 15 Proof examples that were sent by Mint Director James Ross Snowden to the Secretary of the Treasury James Guthrie in Washington. Others were retained at the Mint, including two by Chief Engraver Longacre. Interested numismatists could obtain specimens there. This was initiated what became an uninterrupted string of Proof issues, although production was exceedingly low for the next several years."
While there is no record of restrikes, this would certainly not be the only U.S. coin for which restrikes are suspected but unproven. As a one-year subtype (with small DOLLARS, 1854 only) and a first-year issue, perhaps the subsequent demand for proof examples required the striking of extra pieces beyond the original 15 coins. Various Mint personnel working there in the 1850s were far from averse to making "on-demand" issues when the correct bell was rung. But that is mere speculation. This coin is one of two PR63 Cameo proofs at PCGS, with two finer, both PR64 Cameo (6/13).
The present example offers rich orange-gold surfaces with considerable contrast present. The S in STATES is lower than the E, without the deeply impressed lettering characteristic of the other proof die. A couple of light scrapes are noted on Liberty's cheek, and a couple of dark toning spots on the obverse: one in back of the eye, and one behind the headdress. On the reverse a similar dark spot occurs at the bottom of the 1, and a patch of light yellow-gold patina is noted through DO in DOLLARS. A highly desirable early proof example of this historic and unusual denomination.
Ex: Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection; FUN Signature Auction (1/2007), lot 3121; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2144; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3461; Philadelphia Signature (Heritage, 8/2012), lot 5329.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 289R, PCGS# 88017)
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