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    Lovely 1897 6-Piece Proof Set

    1897 6-Piece Proof Set NGC. The number of silver proof sets issued in 1897 declined from the previous year to just 731 pieces for each denomination, with a nearly identical output in 1898. Although not as elusive as some of their 20th century counterparts, the 1897 dimes, quarters, and half dollars are probably the scarcest proof Barber issues from the 1890s. The other issues-namely the cent, nickel, and dollar-are not particularly noteworthy, but all six pieces are seldom sold as a complete set.
    By many accounts 1897 was a slow year for numismatics. In December 1896, after a period of diminished activity, The Numismatist and the American Numismatic Association separated. Editor George B. Heath wrote that the ANA "is not dead, but seemingly sleepeth; somnolently, solemnly, silently, sweetly ... This magazine cannot, however, afford to remain with the inactive body longer, and until it arises with new habiliments and energy, shall remain detached and independent." It was also noted that the previous two ANA conventions were "flops."
    The Numismatist would not regain its position as official organ of the ANA until 1899. The two years that the ANA was dormant coincided with the lowest proof mintages since 1891.
    The 1897 proof set was issued at an interesting time for the hobby, and its relatively scarcity is not fully appreciated by collectors today.

    1897 One Cent PR65 Red and Brown.
    Bright greenish-gold with splashes of reddish-purple adorns the obverse of this Gem, ceding to crimson and electric-blue on the reverse. An impressive strike lends strong detail to the design elements, save for minor softness in the second feather. Both sides are devoid of mentionable marks or spots. Census: 53 in 65 Red and Brown, 18 finer (11/09).

    1897 Nickel PR64 Cameo.
    Nearly untoned surfaces display the slightest hint of color at the reverse periphery, and reflective fields yield pleasing contrast with the satiny design motifs. A powerful strike imparts crisp definition to the design features, including the corn ear left of the ribbon bow that is sometimes incomplete. A couple of trivial minute marks in the lower right obverse field barely deny Gem classification.

    1897 Dime PR66 Cameo.
    Walter Breen (1988) writes that proof and business strike 1897 dimes come with the 7 either touching the truncation or free of it, and that one variety with the 7 free has an incomplete wreath from drastically repolished dies. The 7 on this Premium Gem is free of the bust and has a complete wreath. Splashes of violet, yellow-gold, and golden-orange bathe both sides, each of which displays excellent Cameo contrast. Frosty devices are boldly impressed. Devoid of mentionable marks.

    1897 Quarter Dollar PR64 Cameo.
    Soft reddish-tan patination fails to impede the stunning field-motif contrast on this wonderful near-Gem. An exacting strike leaves strong delineation on the design elements and both obverse and reverse are nicely preserved. A couple of tiny flecks on the lower reverse do not distract.

    1897 Half Dollar PR66 Ultra Cameo.
    Frosty devices appear to be suspended over the deep water fields on this marvelous Premium Gem Ultra Cameo. Untoned surfaces reveal immaculate preservation and sharply struck design elements. Splendid overall eye appeal.

    1897 Dollar PR66.
    As mentioned in Breen (1977) and seen on the current Premium Gem is repunching on 1 below the upper serif. Whispers of golden-orange color are slightly more prevalent and possess somewhat deeper hues on the reverse. The design elements are sharply struck, including the hair above Liberty's ear and the eagle's breast feathers. An occasional hairline is interspersed with die polish lines on Liberty's cheek and neck. Great overall eye appeal. Census: 22 in 66, 18 finer (11/09).
    From The Boca Collection, Part One.

    View all of [The Boca Collection, Part I ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2010
    6th-10th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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    The pre-sale publicity was more than I imagined, and the actual catalog better than I had expected - and my expectations were high!
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