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    Description

    Attractive 1881 Proof Set
    Six of Eight Pieces Cameo

    1881 Eight-Piece Proof Set NGC. As with 1880, many of the three-coin bronze and copper-nickel proof sets issued by the Mint were broken up for the Shield nickel. The nickel had a circulation mintage of only 68,800 pieces--a far cry from the 16,000 coins struck the previous year, but it was still a difficult coin to locate in circulation. In the 19th century, collectors took little note of proofs or business strikes, just as they little noted mintmarks. If a collector needed a date for a set, a proof would do as well as a circulation strike. This thinking persisted until recent decades when more in-depth studies were made and relative rarities of both proofs and business strikes were published. As a result, most original proof sets were broken up decades ago for the low mintage silver coins which were generally not available as circulation strikes.
    As with most dates in the 1880s, it is difficult to distinguish between proofs and prooflike business strikes. Because of the low mintage of coins struck for circulation the initial die polish remained on many of these pieces. As noted in Breen (1977), the number of complete silver proof sets with both the Trade and Morgan dollar is not definitely known. Possibly as few as 925 sets were struck that contained both, and this number presumably also includes the minor coins.

    1881 Cent PR64 Red and Brown. Considerable copper-orange remains on the obverse, while the reverse's dusky mahogany color is almost uniform. Crisply detailed with a small flyspeck noted to the left of Liberty's forehead.

    1881 Three Cent Nickel PR66 Cameo.
    While this issue is not under the same pressure from date collectors as some other later three cent nickel years, the appeal of an attractive Cameo specimen like this Premium Gem cannot be denied. Both the watery fields and amply frosted devices show peach and gold accents.

    1881 Nickel PR65 Cameo.
    Aside from a few tiny flyspecks in the fields, this Cameo Gem is largely problem-free. Each side combines strong mirrors and boldly struck, moderately frosted devices for pleasing contrast.

    1881 Dime PR65.
    Strongly frosted devices hint at past contrast, but it is the patina, electric-blue at the borders with amethyst and rose centers, that defines this Gem's eye appeal. Pleasingly preserved beneath the toning.

    1881 Quarter PR64 Cameo.
    While the dime is wildly toned, the rest of the silver coins in the set have pale to moderate tan-gold patina. This quarter is faintly toned at the margins, yielding to a strongly contrasted center in silver-white. Well-preserved save for a few faint scuffs and contact marks in the obverse fields.

    1881 Half PR64 Cameo.
    Slightly broader peripheral toning than seen on the quarter, with additional dusky gray elements in a vertical stripe at the left reverse. Strongly mirrored with great eye appeal despite the presence of a few hairlines.

    1881 Morgan Dollar PR65 Cameo.
    Profoundly reflective with a slight golden cast to the fields. Sharply struck devices are moderately frosted. On the reverse, a small planchet flaw below the G in GOD does not affect the grade.

    1881 Trade Dollar PR63 Cameo.
    The champagne toning that bathes the fields helps the immensely frosted devices stand out. Strongly appealing for the Select designation, though light hairlines running through the obverse fields render the grade accurate.
    From The Boca Collection, Part One.


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

    View all of [The Boca Collection, Part I ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2010
    6th-10th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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