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    Very Rare, Complete 14-Piece 1873 Proof Set--Cent Through Trade Dollar--PR64-66 Quality

    Complete 14-Piece 1873 Proof Set 1C . In the late 19th century, proof sets from the middle and latter part of that century were fairly common and were widely collected. Many of the premier collections sold until the 1950s contained runs of original sets. After that time, the value of the individual coins surpassed the collectibility of the sets; thus, most original 19th century proof sets have been broken up and the coins sold individually over the past 50 years. Since that time an occasional collector will attempt to assemble a proof set of a given year, but of course, such a set is a put-together job and there is no chance of reassembling all the coins that were in an original set. It is our belief that this is an original set that was purchased in the early part of 1873. The three cent silver and half dime both have a pronounced bluish cast as do the Closed 3 No Arrows dime, the Closed 3 No Arrows quarter, the Closed 3 No Arrows half, the Seated dollar, and the Trade dollar. The Arrows dime, quarter, and half dollar have a distinctive reddish cast, and we believe that these three pieces were added at a later date in order to provide both Closed and Open 3 examples for the set. The addition of these three coins certainly enhances the interest and desirability of the set overall.
    The historic value of this proof set is undeniable. The year was a pivotal one in 19th century numismatics for four reasons. First, the Mint Act, or so-called "Crime of '73," eliminated odd denomination coins such as the two cent piece, the three cent silver, and half dime. Second, the Mint Act also converted the weight of U.S. coinage to the metric system, thus slightly increasing the weight of the dime, quarter, and half dollar. Third, as a result of the slight increase in weight, arrowheads were added on each side of the date to the dime, quarter, and half. Finally, in a completely unrelated development, the knobs on the 3 in the date on many of the coins were so pronounced that they resembled an 8. Adjustments were made early in the year and several denominations are known today with both Closed and Open 3 date variants. This is perhaps the most important and intriguing 19th century proof set we have ever handled, and we hope the new owner will keep it intact for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. Included are:

    1873 Cent Closed 3 PR65 Red and Brown NGC. Only struck with the Closed 3 date as a proof, this example is deeply reflective and has a speckled overlay of brown patina, which greatly subdues a horizontal scratch in the center of the obverse.

    1873 Two Cent Piece PR65 Red and Brown NGC. Final year of issue for the two cent piece, this date is known in both original and restrike versions. The restrikes were made much later than originals. Unlike many 1873 two cent pieces, this coin has deeply mirrored fields. The surfaces are evenly mellowed from full red, but not by much. Frankly, there is no actual browning present on this lovely piece, just deeper shades of red.

    1873 Closed 3 Three Cent Silver PR66 NGC. An outstanding, deeply mirrored proof that appears to also have considerable mint frost over the devices. Thalo blue toning is enlivened even more by the powerful reflectivity in the fields.

    1873 Closed 3 Three Cent Nickel PR65 Cameo NGC. As with the Indian cent of this date, the three cent nickel proofs were all struck from Closed 3 dies. While mostly brilliant, close inspection reveals just the slightest overlay of patina and there is a moderate overlay of mint frost on the devices that renders a noticeable cameo effect on each side.

    1873 Half Dime PR65 NGC. Scarcer than its mintage of 600 pieces would suggest, as many proof 1873 half dimes were melted on July 10, the bullion used for recoinage into other denominations. Struck from heavily striated dies, the fields show unfathomable depth of mirrored reflectivity and enliven the turquoise and gray toning seen over each side.

    1873 Shield Nickel PR66 NGC. Again, like the cent and three cent nickel, the Shield nickel is only available in proof format with a Closed 3 in the date. This is a brilliant coin that was struck from the usual, slightly granular planchet that is often seen on early nickels. A few specks of carbon are evident when one views the surfaces with a magnifier. Nicely mirrored for a Shield nickel.

    1873 No Arrows Dime PR66 NGC. Like the half dime, only 600 proofs were struck and an unknown number were melted as unsold in July. This is a sparkling, deeply mirrored proof that has turquoise and lilac-gray toning on the obverse, while the reverse shows golden-rose and blue toning on the reverse.

    1873 Arrows Dime PR65 NGC. First year of the short-lived Arrows type, only 800 proofs were struck. This is a lovely Gem proof that has deeply reflective proof fields that serve to enhance the mottled purplish-rose and marginal blue patina. An important and highly collected 19th century type coin.

    1873 Closed 3, No Arrows Quarter PR64 Cameo NGC. Like the No Arrows dimes, those still on hand in July were melted, leaving an undetermined number of proofs distributed to collectors out of the original mintage of 600 pieces. This is an outstanding proof, especially for the grade. The fields show unfathomable depth of reflectivity and the devices are obviously heavily frosted, this effect being noticeable through the depth of toning on each side. The obverse is bright thalo blue with an occasional touch of lilac, while the reverse is golden-russet with cobalt-blue coloration around the margin.

    1873 Arrow Quarter PR64 NGC. Only 540 proof quarters were struck of the Arrows design. This is an attractive near-Gem example that shows a few light hairlines (with magnification). Each side shows speckled reddish-golden toning, the reverse being several shades deeper in hue than the obverse. Deeply reflective fields.

    1873 Closed 3, No Arrows Half PR65 NGC. A quick glance at this coin shows why Mint personnel decided to alter the appearance of the 3 in the date to a more open appearance. The obverse displays translucent thalo blue patina with pink accents around the margin, with gray-rose toning on the reverse surrounded by cobalt-blue at the periphery. The fields show illimitable depth of mirrored reflectivity with exceptional brightness and eye appeal on the obverse.

    1873 Arrows Half PR65 Cameo NGC. Only 550 proofs were struck of the Arrows variant for the 1873 half dollar. This is a deeply mirrored, flashy example that is lightly toned in the centers and surrounded by patches of deep rose-violet and cobalt-blue toning at the margins. The devices are heavily frosted and provide stark contrast against the rippling proof finish in the fields.

    1873 Seated Dollar PR65 NGC. The so-called "Crime of '73" abolished the silver dollar in favor of the Trade dollar. The "crime" referred to the removal of a government subsidy for an outlet of silver for the immensely wealthy and powerful owners of the Comstock Lode. It was five years before the government subsidy was restored through the Bland-Allison Act. An impressively low output of only 600 proofs were struck of the Seated dollar, minus an undetermined number that were melted as unsold on July 10. This is a deeply mirrored proof striking whose reflectivity is fully evident even through the rich tonal qualities seen on each side. The obverse displays variegated teal and rose coloration, while the reverse is almost untoned in the center with ever-deepening patina toward the cobalt-blue margin. No visible flaws are evident on either side of this impressive Gem.

    1873 Trade Dollar PR64 NGC. First year of issue for the Trade dollar design and a very difficult issue to locate as a proof or business strike. Even though 865 proofs were struck, attrition seems to have taken a heavy toll with high grade examples seldom seen. This is an especially attractive near-Gem example whose only faults are very light hairlines and a couple of shallow planchet flakes, both of which are rendered virtually invisible by the tonal qualities present on each side. The obverse has rich thalo-blue toning while the reverse displays a gray-lilac center with cobalt-blue peripheral color and an inexplicable spot of brilliance at 8 o'clock near the denticles.

    An extraordinary opportunity for the astute numismatist to acquire an original proof set from this historic and numismatically important year.


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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2005
    4th-7th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 390

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