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1858 Three Dollar Gold, PR64 Cameo
Only Seven or Eight Proofs Known

1858 $3 PR64 Cameo NGC. CAC. Any 1858 proof gold coin is rare, and few three dollar gold pieces were purchased from the Mint. Probably no more than seven or eight are believed known, of which three are housed in museums. Breen (1977) attempted a roster of known specimens, but to our knowledge it has not been updated in the past 34 years. Die characteristics have been noted, as recorded in the Bowers-Winter series reference. They include:

--On the obverse, the forward plume of the headdress was polished from the die.
--On the reverse, the lower right part of the 5 in the date is positioned over the highest peak of the ribbon bow. (Also seen on strikes for circulation.)
--The mirror surfaces is often incomplete on the obverse.
--Lint marks are commonly seen.

Proof coinage did not begin in earnest until 1858. Prior years were struck on an as-needed basis. It was not until Mint Director James Ross Snowden saw the commercial possibilities of higher production to a growing collector base that proof mintages increased dramatically. This is true for lower-denomination coinage, but apparently Snowden did not have proof gold struck on speculation, it remained on an as-required basis. Undoubtedly the 20 or so proofs that were struck were ordered by collectors who wished a proof example of this curious denomination.
The fields are mirrorlike and the devices on each side are moderately frosted, yielding a two-toned cameo appearance. Just a few light hairlines explain the PR64 grade. Undoubtedly this is one of the premier coins in this immense collection of proof gold. Census: 2 in 64 Cameo, 2 finer (11/10).
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 289W, PCGS# 88021)

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January, 2011
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