1858 $10 PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. JD-1, High R.7.Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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1858 Liberty Eagle, PR64 Ultra Cameo
1858 $10 PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. JD-1, High R.7. Ex:
Trompeter. The Philadelphia Mint began its program of commercial
proof coin offerings in 1858. Mintage figures for proofs were not
recorded that year, but experts agree no more than four to six
proof Liberty eagles were produced. Most of the coins we know about
today were issued as part of six-piece gold proof sets, but it is
possible that a few examples were sold singly, as well. Only four
examples have been reliably reported, and we believe three of those
coins are included in institutional collections at the Smithsonian
Institution, the American Numismatic Society, and the Connecticut
State Library (see roster below). The magnificent coin offered here
is the only example available to collectors, making this lot an
extremely important opportunity for series specialists and Registry
CAC Approved Proof Gold Rarity
Only Example in Private Hands
The 1858 Proof Eagle Dies
A single die pair was used to strike all the proof eagles in 1858. The obverse die was also used to strike coins for circulation that year, but it was in a later die state when the business-strike coins were produced. On proofs, Liberty's neck curls are complete, but the business strikes show the effects of lapping and the curls often appear detached. The reverse die was nearly 20 years old in 1858, as it had been used to strike intermittent proof issues since 1840. It shows the last vertical stripe in the shield extending into the horizontal stripes and heavy die polish in the bottom of the clear spaces, making it easy to distinguish between the formats.
The Present Coin
We can trace the history of the present coin all the way back to the Mint in 1858. Prominent Massachusetts collector George Seavey purchased it as part of a complete gold, silver, and minor proof set that year. Seavey updated his remarkable collection in this fashion every year until he sold his numismatic holdings to millionaire Boston collector Lorin G. Parmelee in 1873. Parmelee retained the proof set intact until he sold his collection in 1890. The gold proof set was dispersed in the Parmelee sale, with the eagle, half eagle, and quarter eagle going to gold and pattern specialist William H. Woodin, who later became Secretary of the Treasury, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Super collector Virgil Brand acquired this coin at the 1911 sale of Woodin's collection, with Lyman Low acting as his agent. Brand retained this piece until his death in 1926 and it eventually passed to his brother Armin, who sold it to Wayte Raymond in 1935. It next appeared in F.C.C. Boyd's World's Greatest Collection and then in the fabulous collection of Dr. Charles W. Green. Fort Worth coin dealer B. Max Mehl cataloged Green's Collection and described this piece in a two-page lot description, which we quote in part below:
"Perfect brilliant proof! By far the rarest of all U.S. $10.00 Gold Pieces and one of the rarest of all U.S. Gold Coins ... the specimen here offered is the only brilliant proof specimen available for purchase ... This great coin in its magnificent condition, is in point of actual rarity, almost on a par with the 1822 Half Eagle ... Its addition to a collection of U.S. Gold Coins would have the same effect as the addition of an 1804 Silver Dollar to a Silver Collection. It would greatly enhance the interest and value of the balance of the collection."
Amon Carter, Sr. purchased the coin at the auction, and it remained in the Carter Family Collection until that spectacular numismatic gathering was sold in January of 1984. This coin realized $121,000 at the Carter sale, a remarkable price for any coin at the time, to David Akers, acting as agent for proof gold specialist Ed Trompeter. It has not been publicly offered since. The owner of the Duquesne Collection purchased this coin privately via Heritage Auctions, along with many other coins from the Trompeter Estate, in 1998.
This spectacular Choice proof exhibits sharply detailed central design elements, with razor-sharp definition on Liberty's curls and the eagle's wings, and just a trace of softness on some star centers. The well-preserved apricot-gold surfaces show a small lintmark below the first 8 in the date and another left of T in TEN on the reverse. The best pedigree marker is a small planchet flake below star 12, possibly caused by foreign matter adhering to the die during the striking process. The deeply mirrored fields contrast profoundly with the richly frosted devices to create an intense cameo effect. Overall eye appeal is tremendous. This coin possesses a combination of extreme absolute rarity, outstanding visual appeal, and one of the longest and most illustrious pedigrees in American numismatics. Off the market for 36 years, it may be decades before this coin becomes available again and the proof gold specialist will find no adequate substitute for this unique-in-private-hands example. The present coin is one of the most important offerings in this memorable sale. Census: 1 in 64 Ultra Cameo, 0 finer. CAC: 1 in 64, 0 finer (3/20).
1858 Proof Eagle Roster
This roster was compiled with help from John Dannreuther and Saul Teichman.
1. PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. George Seavey, part of a complete proof set including minor, silver, and gold coins, probably purchased directly from the Philadelphia Mint in 1858; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 820, not sold, as Lorin G. Parmelee, purchased Seavey's collection intact, before the sale took place; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1292, included in a three piece lot with the half eagle and quarter eagle proofs of this date from Seavey's original proof set, sold for $21.75 ($7.25 each); William H. Woodin; Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 1223, realized $102.50; Virgil Brand, ledger number 57067; Brand Estate; Armin Brand; sold to Wayte Raymond on 7/15/1935 for $125; F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 663, realized $3,750; Dr. Charles W. Green Collection (B. Max Mehl, 4/1949), lot 530, realized $4,250; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr.; Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 759, realized $121,000 to David Akers; Ed Trompeter; Heritage Auctions and Sil DiGenova in 1998; Duquesne Collection. The present coin.
2. Brilliant Proof. Possibly Auction Sale #3 (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1860), lot 712, part of a six-piece gold proof set; George Seavey Collection (William Strobridge, 9/1863), lot 479, set still intact; J.N.T. Levick; John F. McCoy (McCoy broke up the set, as the four lower denomination gold coins were offered in lot 1989 of Woodward's sail of his collection in 5/1864, but the eagle and double eagle were not included); unknown intermediaries; Henry Jewett Collection (S.H. Chapman, 6/1909), lot 847, realized $102.50 to J.C. Mitchelson, per the July 1909 edition of The Numismatist; presumably posthumously donated to the Connecticut State Library with the rest of Mitchelson's collection, but we have not been able to confirm that. This coin has been reported as purchased by Waldo Newcomer, and then to Col. Green via B. Max Mehl by some catalogers, but Mehl states in the Charles W. Green catalog that the coin in that transaction was an XF example, not a proof.
3. PR64 Deep Cameo. An example in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, from the Mint Cabinet, grade per Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
4. Proof. John Colvin Randall, part of a complete gold proof set probably purchased directly from the Mint in 1858; Randall Estate in 1901; J.P. Morgan (1902); New York Museum of Natural History (1902-1908); American Numismatic Society in 1908, displayed by the Society in the 1914 ANS Exhibition.
John Dannreuther notes Los Angeles dealer Hugh Sconyers handled an example of this issue many years ago.
The Trompeter-Duquesne 1858 Proof $10 Liberty. (PCGS# 98794)
Weight: 16.72 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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