Six-Piece 1891 Proof Set
Six-Piece 1891 Proof Set NGC. Christian Gobrecht and James
Longacre dominated American coinage during the second half of the
19th century. The Seated Liberty design by Gobrecht was used on all
silver coins from half dime to silver dollar, while his Liberty
Head could be seen on essentially all gold coins. Even the
short-lived twenty cent piece, the gold dollar, and the double
eagle would feature slightly modified versions of Gobrecht's Seated
Liberty (for the twenty cent) or Liberty Head (for the gold dollar
and double eagle). It is not surprising that by the 1870s many,
including Mint Director Henry Linderman, called for a redesign of
Five Coins Gem or Better
Charles Barber, Chief Engraver since 1879, introduced the "V" nickel in 1883, but the other denominations were untouched. A design competition was planned for 1887, but the Attorney General determined that only Congress could change coin designs. After several changes to coinage laws, another competition was to be held in 1891 and ten artists were invited to participate.
The artists, however, felt that there was not enough time and compensation, and they sent Mint Director Edward Leech a list of demands. Rather than accede to the artists' wishes, Charles Foster, the Secretary of the Treasury, decided to hold a public competition, which turned out to be a complete failure. Over 300 entries were received, but the three judges--seal engraver Henry Mitchell, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and Charles Barber--dismissed all of them as unsuitable.
Leech, probably frustrated and a little embarrassed, gave the commission to Barber, who created a design reminiscent of the French coins of the era. The year 1891 brought the final coins to feature the long-lived Seated Liberty design. After more than 50 years, dimes, quarter, and halves would have a new design.
Cent--Altered Color--Proof. A well-defined specimen with small, scattered hairlines. NGC has judged the coin's mahogany and muted copper-orange color to be altered, but the toning is neither garish nor particularly distracting.
Five Cent Nickel PR65 Cameo. Both sides have solid contrast, but the obverse is particularly laudable, almost Ultra Cameo in appearance on its own. The light golden toning that visits that side thickens over the reverse, with a fade to mint-green within the wreath.
Dime PR65. Green-gold and blue patina is visible on each side, but in different configurations. The shining obverse shows mostly the former color with just a touch of blue along the bottom, while the reverse is edged in green-gold with a broad blue core. Dynamic eye appeal.
Quarter PR65 Cameo. Lightly gold-toned with intensely reflective fields. The margins show a degree of orange color, most noticeably at the right reverse, and the rims have rich umber and violet patina. A gorgeous Gem.
Half Dollar PR66. Deep plum, blue, and amber shadings dominate the eye appeal of this Premium Gem. While the obverse has a gleaming center of pale silver-gray, the reverse is toned all the way across.
Morgan Dollar PR65. An incredible Gem proof with outlandish, divergent patina. The obverse has translucent, dappled champagne and silver patina edged in blue, while the reverse has deeper, duskier versions of the two colors that show a more even blend.
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 ]
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