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    Description

    1858 Quarter Eagle, PR65 Ultra Cameo
    The Second Finest of Five Proofs Known
    Ex: Seavey, Parmelee, Brand, Reed, Gaskill

    1858 $2 1/2 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. JD-1, R.7. In 1853 the Mint saw Director Thomas M. Pettit serve for only one month in office, from April to May, before his death. Pettit's successor was a name familiar to many numismatists, James Ross Snowden, who served from 1853 until 1861. In 1858 the Mint, under Snowden's direction, drastically changed its policies, moving from a "good old boys club," where proof coins and other numismatic delicacies were made available only to well-connected insiders, to an institution where the public could buy denominational sets of proof coins from the current year. Thus, the year 1858 is that in which proof coinage was for the first time made available to the general public.

    The number of gold proof sets struck and sold in 1858 went unrecorded. However, the number of surviving gold proofs of this date lends itself to the notion that few collectors made the large expenditure necessary to secure a gold set. Individual gold proofs could be purchased instead of a complete set, and this likely occurred with proof gold dollars and three dollar pieces, which have higher survival rates than the other gold denominations. By contrast, proof quarter eagles, half eagles, eagles, and double eagles of 1858 are uniformly represented by survivorships of no more than five or six pieces each, and may have only been distributed to the public through the sale of complete gold sets.

    In the case of the 1858 proof quarter eagle, only five specimens are traced today, including one in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian and another in the ANS Collection. The finest of the three privately held pieces is the coin from the Kennywood and Loewinger Collections, which first appeared in a public auction in B. Max Mehl's sale of the James Ten Eyck Collection in May 1922. That coin is certified PR66 Cameo NGC today. It last appeared more than a decade ago, in Heritage's Milwaukee ANA Signature (8/2007), lot 1847. Another privately held 1858 proof quarter eagle is the Clapp-Eliasberg Gem Cameo PCGS coin, which first appeared at public auction in the Chapman brothers' April 1904 sale of the John G. Mills Collection. It last appeared in 2014, after having been off of the market for nearly a decade.

    The present coin is the second-finest of the known 1858 proof quarter eagles. We previously handled this piece in the Dallas ANA Signature sale (10/2012), lot 5638, after it had been off of the market since 1967 when it appeared in a Lester Merkin sale. It traces its pedigree to the famous collection of George Seavey, who purchased it directly from the Mint in 1858 as part of a complete proof set of silver, gold, and minor denominations. It was still part of its original gold proof set when Lorin G. Parmelee acquired it, and the set was intact when the Parmelee sale occurred in June 1890. After that the set was broken up. Later, the quarter eagle passed through many legendary collections, including those of William Woodin, Virgil Brand, and Ira Reed. We are privileged to offer it here, in only its second recorded auction appearance in more than 50 years.

    Like the other 1858 proof quarter eagles, this glittering Ultra Cameo Gem displays an unfinished area within the lower loop of the 5 in the date. A thin die polish line (mint made) between star 11 and the dentils further identifies the proof die pair. Deep orange-on-black field-device contrast and a lack of apparent contact make this coin appear on the cusp of an even finer grade, and even a loupe fails the expose noteworthy flaws.

    Proof 1858 double eagles are only known in museum collections. The other denominations of this year are major rarities. The acquisition of this proof quarter eagle would be a monumental achievement for a proof gold collector.
    From The HFW² Collection.

    1858 Proof Quarter Eagle Roster
    1. PR66 Cameo NGC. James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 91; Ted Ullmer; Ulmer Collection (Stack's, 5/1974), lot 365; T. Henry Allen Collection (Stack's, 2/1977), lot 723; Ed Trompeter; Trompeter Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 38; Kennywood Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2005), lot 863; Dr. Robert Loewinger; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3105; Sunday Internet Coin Auction (Heritage, 3/2007), lot 23837; Sunday Internet Coin Auction (Heritage, 5/2007), lot 24599; Milwaukee ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2007), lot 1847, realized $103,500.
    2. PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. George Seavey, part of a complete copper-silver-gold proof set purchased directly from the Mint in 1858; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), part of lot 820; Lorin G. Parmelee in 1873; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), part of lot 1292; William Woodin; Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 1000; Virgil Brand, via Lyman Low, Brand Journal #57052; Brand Estate; Horace Brand; Ira Reed; Judge Thomas Gaskill; 48th Sale (New Netherlands, 11/1956), lot 294; Public Auction Sale (Lester Merkin, 9/1967), lot 334; Dallas ANA Signature (Heritage, 10/2012), lot 5638. The present coin.
    3. PR65 Cameo PCGS. S.H. & H. Chapman; John G. Mills; Mills Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 4/1904), lot 578; John M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; Eliasberg Estate; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 184; Hugh Sconyers; Dr. Jerry Buss; Buss Collection (Superior, 1/1985), lot 1712; San Francisco ANA Signature (Heritage, 7/2005), lot 10322; Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 5/2006), lot 24320; Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 7/2006), lot 23616; Baltimore Auction (Stack's Bowers, 3/2014), lot 4060.
    4. PR64 Deep Cameo (per Garrett and Guth). Mint Cabinet; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
    5. Proof. John Colvin Randall, part of a complete gold proof set purchased directly from the Mint; Randall Estate (1901); Julius Pierpont Morgan; New York Museum of Natural History; American Numismatic Society in 1908.

    Additional Appearances
    A. Proof. Coin Auction Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1860), lot 712, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set, possibly an earlier appearance of number 1 or 2 above.
    B. Proof. George Seavey Collection (William Strobridge, 9/1863), lot 479, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set, J.N.T. Levick; John F. McCoy; McCoy Collection (Woodward, 5/1864), lot 1989, part of a partial gold proof set with the eagle and double eagle missing; "French", possibly an alias for William J. Jenks. This seems likely to be a second set owned by Seavey, possibly purchased at Woodward's sale in A above, or directly from the Mint, as a duplicate, and disposed of in this sale. In any case, this may be an early appearance of the coin in number 1 or 3 above.
    C. Proof. An impaired specimen in a private collection reportedly seen by Walter Breen.
    D. PR64 NGC. A coin sold privately by Rick Sear, circa 1988, possibly the same as number 1, 2, or 3 above.(Registry values: P7)

    Coin Index Numbers: (PCGS# 97884)

    Weight: 4.18 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2020
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 14
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 710

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