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    1864 Ten Dollar Liberty, PR65 Deep Cameo
    19th Century Proof Gold Rarity
    Only 50 Examples Struck

    1864 $10 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS Secure. Despite a fairly generous recorded mintage of 50 pieces, the 1864 proof Liberty eagle is "a very difficult coin to locate in any grade" according to Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. The mintage figures fail to reveal exactly how many coins were actually distributed to collectors, as opposed to being melted as unsold and left on the record books at the end of the year. Since 10 dollars represented a significant amount of money in the 19th century, some of the coins that were purchased may have been spent by owners who found themselves in tight financial straits in the hard times after the Civil War. Such coins may not be recognizable as proofs, even if they still survive today. In any case, the surviving population is much smaller than the reported mintage, with PCGS Coinfacts estimating no more than 15-20 examples still extant. Two coins are included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and another found a home in the collection of the American Numismatic Society.

    The gold proofs were delivered on February 11, 1864 and were sold as complete sets to well-heeled collectors who could afford the steep premiums charged under the Mint's wartime guidelines. The sets began appearing at auction as early as the Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1865), where lot 2826 consisted of a complete, six-piece 1864 gold proof set. The lot sold for $62.50 to prominent collector John F. McCoy. Collecting large denomination gold coins was not popular in this country until the 1930s, so proof eagles and double eagles were seldom offered individually in the 19th century. Most auction appearances before about 1915 were as part of complete gold proof sets, after which time the sets were broken up and individual offerings became more popular.

    We have only been able to trace the history of the present coin back to its appearance in our Pittsburgh Signature Auction in October of 2011, where it was offered in lot 5060. At that time, the coin was part of a six-piece gold proof set, with the coins offered in separate lots throughout the catalog. It is possible that proof set was purchased directly from the Mint in 1864 and kept intact since its time of issue, but it may also have been assembled by purchasing the individual coins separately over a period of many years.

    Walter Breen's proof Encyclopedia gives these diagnostics for the proof eagles, all visible on this piece:

    "Date well to left, 1 about midway between bust and border or slightly higher, logotype slants down; left base of 1 minutely r. of left edge; r. base of 4 almost over center of a dentil. Rev. Top of second and base of third red [i.e., vertical] stripes thin. About as rare as the half eagle but brings more."

    The present coin is a spectacular Choice proof with Deep Cameo surfaces. The surfaces are light yellow-gold overall on the amply frosted, sharply struck devices and boldly mirrored fields. Tilting the coin slightly produces an intense "gold-on-black" effect. A few tiny planchet flaws appear on each side, and a lint mark curls to the left of star 13 on the obverse. Several light but long hairlines appear in the fields, particularly on the reverse, and a short sequence of minuscule contacts is noted to the left of Liberty's forehead. These are minor quibbles in relation to the overall intense eye appeal and monumental importance of this coin. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called. Population: 3 in 65 (1 in 65+) Deep Cameo, 1 finer (7/18).
    Ex: Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage, 10/2011), lot 5060, as PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC, realized $138,000. (Registry values: P5)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 28F2, PCGS# 98800)

    Weight: 16.72 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2018
    14th-19th Tuesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 19
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 890

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