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    Seven-Piece 1858 Proof Set
    All Coins Select or Better

    Seven-Piece 1858 Proof Set. Mint director J.R. Snowden began the wholesale advertising of proof sets of the current year's coinage for sale to the general public in 1858. Prior to this time, the Mint had for many years struck proof (or "specimen") coins for special occasions, foreign dignitaries, or various collectors having close connections with some Mint personnel.
    The striking of proof sets for public sale in 1858 corresponds with the first major boom in coin collecting in America. Collectors from all walks of life began seeking regular-issue U.S. coinage, and the nation saw the incipient development of professional numismatic societies. The Philadelphia Numismatic and Antiquarian Society was established in January 1858, for example, followed a couple of months later by the founding of the American Numismatic Society. And 1858 was the year that Edward Cogan established the first professional coin dealership in America.
    While there are some indications that proof coins in earlier years were sold for face value, Mint officials eventually began selling the specially prepared proofs at a premium. In their Proof Sets and Mint Sets treatise, Ron Guth and Bill Gale write:

    "... for a small premium, collectors could purchase regular Proof Sets (one example of each of the base metal and Silver coins), Gold Proof Sets (one example each of the Gold coins), or complete Proof Sets (a combination of the Regular and Gold Proof Sets)."


    Mintage records for 1858 proof coinage were apparently not kept or have been lost or destroyed. This has led to a debate as to how many proof coins were in fact made. With respect to silver dollars, Walter Breen, in his Proof Encyclopedia, says: "Long estimated to have been about 80 struck, this estimate originating apparently with the Chapman brothers of Philadelphia, who had it supposedly from mint sources (Patterson, DuBois?)."
    Weimar White's research on the mintages for the proof half dimes, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars of 1858 published in Issue #50 of the March 1991 Gobrecht Journal, however, provides evidence to the contrary that only 80 specimens were struck. He demonstrates that between 282 and 382 proof 1858 pieces were probably coined for these denominations.

    Cent (Large Letters) PR65 PCGS. Rich orange color overall with glimpses of green and gold. A strongly detailed specimen of the Large Letters type, projected by Snow to be twice as rare in proof as the Small Letters variety.

    Three Cent Silver PR64 NGC. Rich golden-tan color embraces much of each side. The obverse has peripheral cerulean shadings, while the reverse toning is more even.

    Half Dime PR64 NGC. Liquid gold and rose-violet shadings enrich the shining surfaces, with the latter hue most prominent at the left obverse and the former color dominant elsewhere. A near-Gem proof with excellent eye appeal.

    Dime PR65 NGC. Bold gold-orange luster forms a seeming undercoat on the obverse, with numerous dots of blue and violet patina around the rims and coalescing in patches at the right. On the reverse, the gold-orange toning stands on its own, lending that side understated but elegant eye appeal. A charming Gem.

    Quarter PR64 PCGS. A richly toned and rewarding near-Gem specimen. Both sides display varying levels of blue-violet and golden toning, with the former color dominant on the obverse and the latter prevailing on the reverse. The fields around the eagle offer particularly strong mirrors through the patina.

    Half Dollar PR64 NGC. Colorful patina offers immense beauty on this exquisite near-Gem. It is considerably contrasted for a non-Cameo piece, though this has more to do with the sense of ivory frost on the devices than the mirrors. Still, the coin's inherent reflectivity brings both the central golden toning and the cobalt-blue peripheral tints to life.

    Seated Dollar PR63 NGC. A charming Select proof, richly toned yet charmingly reflective. Deep blue-green and antique-gold shadings drape each side, and the crisply detailed devices echo past frostiness. Small, scattered hairlines and a few contact marks in the reverse fields account for the grade. Census: 18 in 63, 21 finer (11/09).
    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: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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