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    1883 Hawaii Eighth Dollar, PR63 Cameo
    Extremely Rare Odd-Denomination Issue
    Proof-Only Issue, 20 Struck, Sole Cameo at PCGS

    1883 12.5C Hawaii Eighth Dollar PR63 Cameo PCGS Secure. KM-4, Medcalf-Russell 2CS-2, R.7. The Kingdom of Hawaii coinage is quite popular today with collectors, one of the many series of coins from other nations that were struck at a branch of the United States Mint (San Francisco, in this case, with no S mintmark). A complete PCGS Registry Set of the foreign coins struck at U.S. mints comprises several hundred pieces (817, at last count) and would likely be the work of a lifetime to complete -- a tempting and incredibly challenging proposition.

    Getting back to Hawaii, Heritage Auctions has been privileged over the years to offer many beautiful examples of this distinctive coinage, and each one brings a waft of the cool sea breezes from the Hawaiian Islands along with it. Collectors vie eagerly for such coins, and PCGS currently shows 23 different collectors attempting to complete the Hawaii, Circulation Strikes (1847-1883) Registry Set, which includes the 1847 copper cent plus the four well-known silver denominations dated 1883, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar.

    All of those coins, however, are circulation strikes. The incredibly rare proof coins are another matter entirely.

    Three coins in the present consignment form a remarkable constellation, the proof-only "hapawalu" or one-eighth of a dollar coin, along with proof examples of the half dollar and silver dollar offered elsewhere in this Platinum Night session. The one-eighth of a dollar coin is strictly a pattern issue, never struck for circulation, as the U.S Mint decided before production began to replace the denomination with a standard dime denomination of the same size, conforming to U.S. measures.

    The standard reference for the coinage of the Kingdom of Hawaii is Hawaiian Money: Standard Catalog by Donald Medcalf and Ronald Russell. The second edition, published in 1991, informs the reader thusly:

    "Six silver proof sets without the eighth dollar were struck in September, 1883. A year later 20 sets with the eighth dollar (5 coin set) were struck in silver proof. 18 of the sets were struck in 4 denominations, the eighth, quarter, half and one dollar in pattern copper pieces, identical to the silver and struck from the same dies."

    Although PCGS has a five-piece Registry Set collection for the proof coinage of Hawaii, no current collectors are making the attempt. Famed collector John Jay Pittman owned an example of the proof-only one-eighth dollar Hawaiian coin, as well as proof examples of the dime, quarter dollar, and half dollar. The Pittman coin was graded Choice Proof by David Akers (Akers Numismatics, Part I, 10/1997), lot 828, where he estimated that "10 to 15 pieces" exist today. The Akers piece realized $24,200.

    This Select Cameo proof certified by PCGS marks only the fourth time we have offered examples of this pattern striking. A PR63 Cameo NGC example brought $43,125 in our Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2011), lot 5562. A PR66 PCGS example in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 4237, realized $92,000. A PR63 PCGS example from a 2001 Heritage Exclusively Internet auction went unsold.

    This piece is certified in a PCGS Secure holder and shows remarkable eye appeal and contrast, not merely an extremely rare coin but an extremely rare and gorgeous coin. The devices are coated with lavish mint frost on both sides, contrasting against deeply reflective fields. The obverse is mostly silver-white with accents of copper-gold near the rims, while the reverse displays deeper amber-gold and cobalt-blue patina against the silvery center.

    These rare proof Hawaiian silver coins, and the present piece in particular, pose an extraordinary opportunity for lovers of Hawaiian coinage. Population: 1 in 63 Cameo, 0 finer (3/14). (PCGS# 810985)

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2014
    23rd-27th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 943

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