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Gorgeous Gem Proof 1860 Three Dollar Gold

1860 $3 PR65 NGC. Ostensibly, 119 proof three dollar gold pieces were delivered by the coiner on April 5, 1860. However, the issue's appearances on the market are extremely infrequent. Numismatists believe most of those proofs went unsold and were melted at the Mint. Walter Breen speculated that many specimens were later spent or carried as pocket pieces until they became indistinguishable from business strikes. In The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889, Q. David Bowers reports, "Although Mint records state that 119 Proofs were struck, it is likely that no more than 20 were actually distributed. For decades the 1860 has been viewed as a first-class rarity among Proofs in the $3 series." Bowers goes on to estimate a surviving population of 10-12 examples.
Harry Bass noticed that proofs of this date were struck from the same dies as circulation strikes. The dies were simply repolished to produce a mirror finish. This process (called lapping) resulted in some loss of detail in certain areas. Longacre's initials, on the truncation of the neck, were nearly eradicated by the lapping, and the spacing of the obverse dentils was also disrupted.
The present coin is a small masterpiece. Despite the aforementioned lapping, this coin features a sharp strike. Exquisite detail is present in the hair and feathers on the obverse, and in the wreath on the reverse. The fields are fully reflective, and complement the crisply delineated devices to produce fantastic eye appeal. This specimen is tied with two other pieces, one at PCGS and another at NGC, for the honor of finest certified (6/09).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 289Y, PCGS# 8023)

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Auction Dates
July, 2009
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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