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    Pleasing 1885 Silver-Minor Proof Set

    1885 7-Piece Proof Set NGC. As in the previous year, 1885 proof sets were broken up because of date pressure from low-mintage business strikes. The best known is the series-key Liberty nickel. Only 1.4 million circulation strike nickels were produced, which gave it the lowest mintage (to that point) and the coin to have in the new and widely collected series. This demand also placed tremendous date pressure on the 3,790 proof strikings. Similarly, the three cent nickel is almost only available as a proof as there were only 1,000 business strikes coined. This same date pressure was seen on the quarters and halves, as in previous years. Only 13,600 circulation strike quarters and 5,200 circulation strike halves were produced vs. 940 and 930 proofs, respectively. The usual blurring of appearance is seen on early circulation strikes and proofs of this low-mintage year. Unlike in 1884, though, diagnostics for all denominations of proofs are well known. According to Breen (1977) a total of 3,790 minor proof sets were struck, and 930 of those sets were included in the silver proof sets for the year.

    1885 One Cent PR65 Brown.
    Deep bluish-purple patination dominates this glossy Gem, accented with olive-green at the margins. As with many 1884 proof cents, this interesting coloration on 1885 pieces likely came from Wayte Raymond's stock in mint wrappers (Breen 1977). An exacting strike imparts sharp detail to the design motifs, including the feather tips, diamonds, shield, and leaf ribbing. Well cared for surfaces are free of mentionable contact marks or spots.

    1885 Three Cent Nickel PR65.
    Both sides of this Gem three cent nickel specimen display considerable field-motif variance at various angles and possess a thin coat of soft ice-blue and violet color. A decisive strike manifests itself in sharp definition on the design elements, including the lines of the III denomination. A few tiny flecks are undisturbing.

    1885 Nickel PR66 Cameo.
    Reflective fields highlight the frosty devices, all of which exhibit a sharp strike, including the hair above Liberty's ear and the leaves and ear of corn left of the bow knot. Freckles of light gray are visible under high magnification and well cared for surfaces reveal no mentionable blemishes. A readily available issue right through Premium Gem. Cameos, however, are difficult to acquire in all grade levels. Census: 27 in 66 Cameo, 15 finer (11/09).

    1885 Dime PR65.
    Breen (1977) writes of 1885 proof dimes that "mediocre strikes" are frequent. This lovely Gem offers an above average impression. Liberty's gown and shield detail are strong. Only the hair atop Liberty's head and a few elements in the upper left part of the wreath are a tad incomplete. Splashes of cobalt-blue, lavender, and gold-brown are a bit deeper in hue and more extensive on the obverse. Nicely preserved throughout.

    1885 Quarter PR63.
    Deep electric-blue, lavender, and golden-orange toning greets the observer of this Select quarter. This color palette covers the entire reverse, while being confined to the left and bottom border of the obverse. Luminous surfaces exhibit sharply struck devices, though the centrils of the stars along the right margin are soft. Reflective fields highlight the motifs at most angles, particularly on the obverse. Faint hairlines in the right obverse fields barely prevent the attainment of a finer grade.

    1885 Half Dollar PR61.
    Aqua-blue and deep violet patina concentrates around the borders of this half leaving the central areas brilliant. Only the hair on the top of Liberty's head and the eagle's left (facing) claw reveal a touch of incompleteness, and mirrored fields yield mild yet pleasing contrast with the lightly frosted devices. Fine hairlines in the fields appear to preclude a finer grade. Nevertheless, a rather attractive coin. That said, one might wonder whether this piece has claims to a finer grade.

    1885 Dollar PR65.
    Breen (1977) says of the 1885 Morgan dollar proof that many have been excessively scrubbed. Happily this Gem is a notable exception. Its surfaces are completely devoid of even the hint of hairlines or abusive contact marks. Indeed, Liberty's cheek and neck are remarkably smooth. Splashes of cobalt-blue, lavender, and gold-tan patination visit each side and a solid strike delivers strong definition to the design elements. These factors combine to generate outstanding eye appeal.
    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: 22
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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