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    Description

    1843 Half Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo
    Rarely Seen Early Gold Proof
    Finest-Certified Example, Ex: Pittman

    1843 $5 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. JD-1. Ex: Pittman. Early proof gold coins are among the most elusive issues in U.S. federal coinage. No records of proof mintages were kept before the Mint began its program of commercial proof offerings in 1858, but surviving populations are extremely low, so the production totals must have been tiny. Regarding the 1843 proof Liberty half eagle, only six examples are known to numismatists today. Two of those coins reside in institutional collections, forever out of reach of eager collectors. A third specimen was stolen in 2007 and has not been recovered. A fourth coin is in slightly impaired condition. Heritage Auctions is pleased to present the finest-certified specimen of this early proof rarity in this important offering.

    The present coin traces its history to several important collections, including those of F.C.C. Boyd, J.F. Bell, and John Jay Pittman. It has been accompanied by examples of the 1843 proof quarter eagle and eagle, forming a gold proof set of the year, since it first appeared in 1939 (the proof 1843 quarter eagle, eagle, and original case are offered in separate lots in the appropriate sections of this catalog). Pittman acquired the three gold coins in 1948 and later combined them with a set of proof copper and silver coins of 1843 to form a complete 10-piece proof set in an original case. In his catalog of the Pittman Collection, David Akers described this coin as:

    "This coin is absolutely extraordinary ... It is likely that this is the finest known Proof Half Eagle of the 1840's ... This magnificent Proof 1843 Half Eagle has a superb strike, deep mirror fields that have no more than a few faint and almost totally insignificant hairlines, and the most spectacular deep original yellow gold color imaginable ... This coin is, in my opinion, the premier item of all the coins in the Proof sets of the 1840's in the John Jay Pittman Collection."


    We share Akers' enthusiasm for this remarkable coin, noting the terrific overall eye appeal. A few light copper alloy spots show on the obverse and some iridescent blue-violet highlights are seen at the reverse rim, below the FI in FIVE. Die polishing lines are visible in the reverse field and there is a small lint mark near the lowest arrowhead. The date is level and centered between the bust and dentils, identifying the JD-1 proof die. This lot represents an extremely important opportunity for the proof gold specialist, as there is no comparable example of this rare early proof available to collectors.

    Roster of 1843 Proof Half Eagles
    Pedigrees for the 1843 gold proofs are notoriously difficult to compile and earlier researchers, like David Akers and John Dannreuther, did not have access to many resources on the Newman Portal today, like the Armin Brand notebooks. Thanks to John Dannreuther, Ron Guth, and Saul Teichman for their help preparing this roster. Grades are per the last auction appearance, unless a subsequent certification event is known. It is virtually certain that some coins have been submitted, or resubmitted, to the grading services since their last public offering. Grade of the Smithsonian specimen is per Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
    1. PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Possibly John Zug; sold to F.C.C. Boyd in 1939, per David Akers; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 394 (a proof 1843 quarter eagle and eagle were also offered in separate lots in this auction, and in the two following sales); J.F. Bell (Jacob Shapiro); possibly 39th Mail Bid Sale (Hollinbeck-Kagin, 11/1946), lot 2255 (not sold); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 343; John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part I (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 832, as part of a complete copper, silver, and gold proof set; Sil DiGenova and Mike Storeim; Ken Goldman (KGI) and Mark Yaffe (NGE); Blanchard & Co.; the three gold coins were reportedly sold in a private transaction by Blanchard & Company in May of 2009 for $937,765; Joan Zieg Steinbrenner; the present coin.
    Note on the reassembled 1843 proof set: William Woodin owned a complete 1843 ten-piece copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original case after he bought Peter Mougey's collection in 1908. He split the set, selling the silver and copper coins, with the case, along with most of the rest of Mougey's collection, through Thomas Elder in 1910. He later sold the quarter eagle and eagle in the 1911 sale of his own gold collection, also through Elder, but retained the proof half eagle until later, and exhibited it at the 1914 ANS Exhibition. Woodin sold most of his half eagles (probably including the proof 1843) to Waldo Newcomer circa 1924. That coin probably went to "Colonel" Green, and was not included in the reassembled set. The quarter eagle went to Virgil Brand in 1911 and remained in the Brand Estate until it was sold by Armin Brand in 1943. We have not been able to trace it since. Likewise, the eagle from the original set went to Brand in 1911 and later went to Harry Bass. Someone, probably John Zug, reassembled the three-piece gold proof set before 1946, as F.C.C. Boyd had all three coins in his collection by that date, but none of the coins were from the original set. John Jay Pittman purchased the three gold proofs at the sale of the Memorable Collection, and united them with the silver and copper proofs of that date, which he purchased a few months later from Judge Joseph F. Sawicki, to reconstitute the complete 1843 proof set in the original case.
    2. PR66 Deep Cameo (grade per Garrett and Guth). Mint Cabinet in 1843 as part of a complete proof set, National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
    3. PR63 Cameo NGC. A coin in the complete copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original red Morocco case reportedly presented by President Tyler in 1843 to his ward, Mrs. Octavia McMurray (per Frossard); Reverend T. Wilkinson Collection (Edouard Frossard; 2/1880), lot 651; purchased at the sale by George Cogan, probably acting as agent for Richard B. Winsor, for $100; Winsor Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1895), lot 1067; purchased by Peter Mougey, bidding as "Gold"; William Woodin purchased Mougey's collection intact, after his death in 1908, and sold the majority of the collection through Thomas Elder in 1910, but he kept the three gold coins from the 1843 proof set; William Woodin, exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition; possibly Waldo Newcomer, inventory number 158; B. Max Mehl on consignment in 1931; possibly "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), part of lot 250; Abe Kosoff; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2015), lot 4347, realized $117,500.
    4. PR63 PCGS. A coin in the complete copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original yellow Morocco case reportedly presented by President Tyler in 1843 to an unnamed constituent; Fernand David Collection (Jacques Schulman, 3/1930), lot 112; purchased by an agent of B. Max Mehl at the Schulman sale in Amsterdam; Frank Stoddard; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green in 1932, via Mehl; Green Estate; B.G. Johnson; offered to Ruth Green on 6/23/1943 for $1,000, returned; offered to B. Max Mehl on 8/30/1944 for $1,000, returned; F.C.C. Boyd; purchased by B. Max Mehl; Will W. Neil; Neil Collection (Mehl, 6/1947), lot 2292; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr.; Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 630; Daniel Drykerman (per Walter Breen); Chris Napolitano; private collector; the set was stolen at the 2007 FUN convention and has not reappeared.
    5. Proof. A specimen in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, discovered by Dr. Richard Doty in 2002.
    6. PR58 PCGS. Los Angeles ANA Auction (Bowers and Merena, 8/2009), lot 4520, previous pedigree unknown.

    Additional Appearance
    A. PR65. David Akers reports seeing an example at the 1997 ANA Convention.
    From The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection. (Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 28BL, PCGS# 98433)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


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

    View all of [The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2019
    14th-18th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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