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    1864 Liberty Eagle, PR65 Ultra Cameo
    Only 13 Examples Traced
    Ex: Bass

    1864 $10 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. JD-1, High R.6. Ex: Bass. An optimistic mintage of 50 proof eagles was accomplished at the Philadelphia Mint in 1864, with all the coins delivered on February 11. This was the largest proof mintage since the Civil War began in 1861 and it seems extremely unlikely that more than half the mintage was ever distributed to collectors. The government suspended specie payments in 1861, making it both expensive and inconvenient for collectors to order proofs during the war years. In keeping with government policy, the Mint would not accept greenbacks at par, so collectors had to either pay steep premiums when purchasing gold proofs or make in-kind purchases, exchanging an equal amount in gold coins for the proof coins purchased, plus the proofing fee. The only way to get the gold coins needed for such an exchange was to buy them through bullion and exchange brokers, again at an exorbitant premium in greenbacks. With all the stress and hardship of the war on people's minds, plus the added expense and difficulty incurred in ordering proofs, collector demand declined tremendously during this dark period in American history. Most of the proof gold coins, which were only offered in complete gold proof sets during this era, went unsold and were melted after the end of the year.

    PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population of 1864 proof eagles at 15-20 examples in all grades, but even that small total may be too generous. John Dannreuther provides a more conservative estimate of 14-16 specimens extant in his new series reference on proof gold, with two of those coins included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and another in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. Unfortunately, the population data for this issue has been wildly inflated by resubmissions and crossovers. We have listed the 13 examples known to us in the roster below.

    One set of dies was used to strike all the proof eagles in 1864. This was the only use of the obverse die, with the date placed far to the left and slanting down dramatically from left to right. The reverse die was also used to strike proofs in 1863 and 1865 and shows die polish in the bottom of the clear spaces in the shield, with the second vertical stripe thinned at the top, and a raised artifact on the O in OF. These diagnostics make it easy to distinguish between proofs and prooflike business strikes.

    The proof sets began appearing at auction almost immediately, as a complete six-piece set was offered in lot 2826 of the Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1865), "1864 Brilliant proof set, six pieces, as rare as the last." The lot realized $62.50, to prominent collector John F. McCoy. This was a strong price at the time, as high denomination gold proofs only began to command extensive premiums in the 1930s. Most early auction appearances were for coins in complete sets, but these were usually broken up by the 1920s, and the coins are almost always offered individually in recent times. Recent auction prices for the 1864 proof eagle include the PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS example in lot 5283 of the ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2018), which realized $240,000.

    The present coin traces its history back to the celebrated gold collection of William Woodin, who later served as Secretary of the Treasury, under President Franklin Roosevelt. Woodin sold his gold holdings through New York dealer Thomas Elder in March of 1911, where this coin was described as, "1864. Very rare brilliant proof. Coinage very small. As rare as the 1863. Plate." The cataloger referred to the small business-strike coinage of just 3,530 pieces, which makes high-grade circulation strikes extremely rare and has historically put considerable pressure on the small supply of proofs from date collectors.

    This coin is untraced for many years after its appearance in the Woodin sale, perhaps spending time in one of the great undocumented collections of the early 20th century, like that of Colonel James Ellsworth or "Colonel" E.H.R. Green. It next surfaces in the noteworthy collection of Gaston DiBello, who was one of the few American collectors to attend the sale of the fabulous collection of King Farouk in Cairo, Egypt, in 1954. It is tempting to think DiBello acquired this coin at the Farouk sale, but we know the actual buyer of the coin offered there was Sol Kaplan. Kaplan was a prominent dealer who might have sold the coin to DiBello after the sale, but there is no conclusive evidence of this.

    Harry W. Bass, Jr., one of the most advanced gold coin collectors of all time, purchased this coin at the sale of the DiBello Collection, Part II (Stack's, 5/1970), in lot 1075. He retained it, with the rest of his collection, until his death in 1998. His wonderful gold collection was sold in a series of blockbuster auctions by Bowers and Merena in 1999-2000. This coin sold in lot 1494 of the second sale in that series for a strong price of $63,250. It has not been publicly offered since.

    The present coin is a delightful Gem proof, with sharply detailed design elements throughout. The devices exhibit a rich coat of mint frost that creates intense cameo contrast with the deeply mirrored fields. The gold-on-black Cameo flash is truly startling when the coin is tilted in the light. The well-preserved yellow-gold surfaces show the slight orange-peel texture that characterizes the best proofs of this era. A barely visible thin hairline in the obverse field, between stars 2 and 5, is a key pedigree marker linking this coin to the Woodin appearance. There is also a minor linear planchet flaw extending from Liberty's lips into the field and a small dark spot on the reverse rim at 12 o'clock, but no bothersome distractions are evident anywhere on this remarkable coin. Overall eye appeal is terrific. This example has been off the market for more than 20 years and it may be that long again before a comparable specimen becomes available. We expect intense competition from series specialists when this lot is called. Census: 4 in 65 Ultra Cameo, 1 finer (10/19).
    From The Duquesne Collection, Part III.

    Roster of 1864 Proof Eagles

    This roster is expanded from earlier work by Saul Teichman and John Dannreuther. Grades are per the last auction appearance, unless a subsequent certification event is known. The grade of the Smithsonian specimens are per Garrett and Guth. Many coins have been resubmitted since their last auction appearance.
    PR66+ Deep Cameo PCGS. T. Harrison Garrett; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection Sale (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1976), lot 411, part of a six-piece gold proof set with the coins offered individually; Boston Jubilee Auction (NERCA, 7/1980), lot 218; Al Adams; Gold Rush Collection (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 30061, as PR65 PCGS, realized $149,500. Pictured on PCGS CoinFacts twice, as PR65+ Deep Cameo and as PR66+ Deep Cameo.
    PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. Possibly William Woodin; Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 1228; unknown intermediaries; Gaston DiBello Collection, Part II (Stack's, 5/1970), lot 1075; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Collection, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 1494, as PR64 PCGS, realized $63,250; Stuart Levine; private collector. The present coin.
    PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. Pittsburgh Signature (Heritage, 10/2011), lot 5060, as PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC, realized $138,000; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2018), lot 5072, as PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS, realized $144,000; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2018), lot 5283, as PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS, realized $240,000. Pictured on PCGS CoinFacts.
    PR65 Cameo NGC. CAC. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2221, realized $161,000.
    PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. Atlanta Signature (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 2059, as PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC; Las Vegas Auction (Bowers and Merena, 10/2006), lot 5877; Samuel J. Berngard Collection (Stack's, 7/2008), lot 2570, as PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS.
    PR64 Deep Cameo. Purchased for the Mint Cabinet on February 26, 1864 as part of a complete proof set; National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
    PR64 Cameo NGC. Dr. Jerry Buss Collection (Superior, 1/1985), lot 1895, as Brilliant Proof 63; October Sale (Superior, 10/1990), lot 2138, as PR63 PCGS; Century Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 2805; May-June Auction (Superior, 5/1993), lot 1566, as PR64 Cameo NGC.
    PR63+ Deep Cameo PCGS. Dale Friend Collection; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2017), lot 5956; Del Loy Hanson Collection.
    PR63 Deep Cameo PCGS. W.T. Mumford Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1896), lot 517; John M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; Eliasberg Estate; The United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 720; Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2477.
    PR63 Deep Cameo. Possibly "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Stack's; Clifford T. Weihman; Stack's; Josiah K. Lilly; National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
    PR63 NGC. Spring Sale (Stack's, 4/1978), lot 893; Auction '79 (Stack's, 7/1979), lot 901; Ed Trompeter; Trompeter Estate, Heritage Auctions and Sil DiGenova in 8/1998; private collection.
    Very Choice Brilliant Proof. James A. Stack Collection (Stack's, 3/1995), lot 584.
    Proof. J. Colvin Randall (possibly purchased directly from the Mint in 1864 as part of a complete gold proof set); Randall Estate (1901); J.P. Morgan (1902); New York Museum of Natural History (1902-1908); American Numismatic Society on April 10, 1908; exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition.

    Additional Appearances
    A. Proof.
    Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 3/1865), lot 2826, part of a six-piece gold proof set, purchased by John F. McCoy for $62.50.
    B. Proof.
    George Seavey, part of a complete gold-silver-minor proof set purchased directly from the Mint; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 826; Lorin G. Parmelee, circa 1873; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1333.
    Proof. Mendes I. Cohen Collection (Edward Cogan. 10/1875), lot 251, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set.
    Proof. Heman Ely, probably directly from the Mint; Ely Collection (W. Elliott Woodward, 1/1884), lot 946, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set.
    Proof. Thomas Cleneay Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890), lot 413, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set.
    Proof. An example purchased by Virgil Brand, Brand Journal #13965; Brand Estate; Armin Brand; sold to an unidentified buyer on 9/9/1936 for $72.50.
    Proof. Charles S. Wilcox, part of a bulk lot of proof gold; purchased by Virgil Brand in 1897, Brand Journal #16826; Brand Estate; Armin Brand; consigned to B.G. Johnson on 10/25/1937.
    Proof. William B. Wetmore Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1906), lot 149, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set, realized $105 to Elmer Sears.
    Proof. David S. Wilson Collection (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 324, part of a six-piece gold proof set; Henry Chapman; possibly William Cutler Atwater; Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1442.
    Proof. James B. Wilson Collection (Thomas Elder, 10/1908), lot 61, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set, purchased by J.C. Michelson for $175.
    Proof. Another example owned by Virgil Brand, Brand Journal #91999; Brand Estate; Horace Brand.
    Proof. Oscar Engstrom Collection (B. Max Mehl, 11/1920), lot 1068, part of a six-piece gold proof set with the coins offered individually.
    M. Proof.
    James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 293.
    Impaired Proof. Sale 397 (J.C. Morgenthau, 4/1939), lot 206.
    Proof. Sale 416 (Morgenthau, 10/1940), lot 135.
    Proof. J.F. Bell (Jacob Shapiro); J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 628.
    Proof. F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 669; J.F. Bell; Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 563.
    Proof. Pennsylvania Sale (Hollinbeck Stamp and Coin Company, 2/1947), lot 2659.
    Proof. Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 918.
    Proof. Dr. Charles W. Green Collection (Mehl, 4/1949), lot 538.
    Proof. Jerome Kern Collection (Mehl, 5/1950), lot 509.
    Proof. Possibly "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 200; Sol Kaplan.
    Proof. Davis-Graves Collection (Stack's, 4/1954), lot 944.
    Proof. Dr. Clifford Smith Collection (Stack's, 5/1955), lot 1853; Garland Stephens.
    Proof. New York Metropolitan Convention Sale (Stack's, 5/1956), lot 1828.
    Proof Cleaned. 48th Sale (New Netherlands, 11/1956), lot 910; Kagin.
    Proof. George O. Walton Collection (Stack's, 10/1963), lot 3132; Charles Jay Collection (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 319; James Dines Collection (Stack's, 3/1969), lot 827; Winner Delp Collection (Stack's, 11/1972), lot 811; Raymond J. Wayman Collection (Stack's, 9/1981), lot 66.
    Proof. Theodore Ullmer Collection (Stack's, 5/1974), lot 490; T. Henry Allen Collection (Stack's, 2/1977), lot 946; Mocatta Metals. (Registry values: P5)

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

    Weight: 16.72 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View all of [The Duquesne Collection, Part III ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,488

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