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    1885 Double Eagle, AU55
    One of the Keys to the Series, Only 751 Struck

    1885 $20 AU55 PCGS. The 1885 Liberty Head double eagle boasts the second lowest business-strike mintage of any double eagle, at 751 pieces. Few examples were saved at the time of issue because most advanced collectors of the era preferred to order proofs from the Mint, rather than save a business strike from circulation. The issue is rare in all grades today, with fewer than 100 examples known. Most examples seen are in AU grades, and Mint State pieces are quite rare.
    Because the mintage was so small, the dies did not experience much wear, and business-strike coins have reflective, prooflike surfaces. Virtually all early auction appearances of the 1885 double eagle describe the coin offered as a proof, but we suspect many coins were actually prooflike business strikes. For example, the coin offered in the Murdoch Collection (Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, 7/1903), lot 692 is located in the section of the catalog reserved for proof double eagles, but the cataloger describes the coin as "slightly scratched" and "very fine." As no other 1885 gold proof coins from any denomination are offered in the catalog, it seems unlikely that Murdoch purchased his 1885 double eagle from the Mint as part of a proof set. A more likely scenario is that the coin was a business strike that made its way to Europe in normal channels of foreign trade, and Murdoch acquired it from a bullion broker or pawn shop. When his collection was sold, the British cataloger was fooled by the reflective surface and categorized the coin as a proof. Even in this country, numismatists often confused the proof and business-strike issues of 1885 until recent times.
    The present coin is an appealing specimen, with the prooflike surfaces always seen on this date. The surfaces are tinted a rich, even reddish color and are lightly abraded for the grade. Two tiny milling marks in the right obverse field serve as pedigree markers. Population: 11 in 55, 17 finer (1/12).
    Ex: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2263.(Registry values: N4719) (NGC ID# 26BM, PCGS# 9003)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2012
    8th-11th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,050

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