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    Delightful 1896 6-Piece Proof Set

    1896 6-Piece Proof Set NGC. The debate between proponents of the gold standard and those who favored free coinage of silver reached a fevered pitch in 1896. William Jennings Bryan, an outspoken supporter of Free Silver and the common man, waged an intense campaign against William McKinley, who wanted to maintain the gold standard that had been in place since the Coinage Act of 1873. This election, which many historians consider to be the pivotal moment in defining the modern political parties of the United States, had the potential to greatly change the nation - and its coinage.
    Bryan, memorable for his "Cross of Gold" speech, narrowly lost to McKinley, and the gold standard remained in place until it was effectively ended by Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. Ultimately no changes were made to the silver coins then circulating. Nonetheless, this important year sparked an outflow of souvenir medals and tokens relating to the debate and these pieces are widely collected today. Never again have coins taken such a prominent position in a presidential election.
    Breen (1977) wrote that many of the proof 1896 nickels were broken out and hoarded, but he does not give further details or an explanation why this would have occurred. The mintage of 1,862 proof minor coins was the lowest since 1877, which may have fueled demand from speculators. Regardless, the 1896 proof set represents a significant year in the history of the United States and its coinage. The proof coins from this year are generally regarded as the best produced (perhaps only rivaled by 1898) of the proofs struck in the latter half of the 19th century.

    1896 One Cent PR65 Red and Brown.
    The bright surfaces of this pretty Gem display splashes of crimson, lime-green, sky-blue, and orange-gold on the obverse, while yellow-gold imbued with wisps of light green resides in the reverse center flanked by reddish-gold and electric-blue at the margins. Sharp definition is visible on the design elements, though the first couple of feather tips are soft. Neither side reveals mentionable contact marks. Census: 38 in 65 Red and Brown, 9 finer (11/09).

    1896 Nickel PR64.
    David Bowers writes in his Shield and Liberty Head Nickels: "At least one obverse die was heavily repolished; Proofs struck from this die have some stars with flat centers and show prominent lint marks from debris." The present near-Gem obviously was not struck with this obverse die as all of its design features, including the star centers, are boldly impressed, and just one unobtrusive lint mark is visible. The reverse devices are also sharp. Soft champagne-gold patina bathes both sides, each of which displays whispers of light bluish-violet and is nicely preserved.

    1896 Dime PR66 Cameo.
    Mirrored fields highlight frosty motifs on this highly attractive Premium Gem. Aqua-blue and soft reddish-orange patina gravitates to the margins, and an exacting strike imparts crisp detail to the design features. Both sides are immaculately preserved. Census: 16 in 66 Cameo, 11 finer (11/09).

    1896 Quarter Dollar PR64 ★ Cameo.
    NGC's coveted Star confirms the majestic eye appeal of this wonderful near-Gem Cameo, one of only six 1896 proof quarters given this designation (11/09). Frosty, exquisitely struck design elements seem to float over the deep watery fields, and both sides are essentially untoned and devoid of mentionable marks.

    1896 Half Dollar PR60.
    Fully brilliant surfaces with essentially indiscernible wisps of peripheral gold color reach out to the observer and a solid strike leaves strong definition on the design elements. Only the upper right corner of the shield reveals minor softness, which is typical for the issue. Occasional faint hairlines appear under high magnification, nevertheless this coin generates considerable appeal for the designated grade.

    1896 Dollar PR66 Cameo.
    This Premium Gem displays a dramatic Cameo effect, which is typical for the issue. Indeed, David Bowers (1993) cites Wayne Miller, saying: "... Proof dollars of 1896-1898 evidence the most awesome cameo contrast of any Proofs in the Morgan series." This contrast is enhanced by the nearly untoned surfaces. Only a hint of light tan occasionally appears under magnification. Additionally, a well executed strike delivers sharp detail to the design elements, generating even greater eye appeal. Finally, close examination reveals beautiful blemish-free surfaces.
    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: 12
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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