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    1856 Gold Dollar, PR65 Ultra Cameo
    Deeply Reflective, Sharply Contrasted

    1856 G$1 Slanted 5 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. Ex: Simpson. Any proof coins produced by the Mint before 1858 are downright rare; gold proof coins are doubly so. The 1856 gold dollars, the first P-mint issues of the Type Three series, were manufactured with two date styles, the Upright 5 and Slanted 5 (the Guide Book calls it the Slanting 5). The large commercial production was more than 1.7 million coins, an apparent Mint attempt to spur acceptance of the so-far-unpopular denomination.
    The business strikes were accompanied by an undoubtedly minuscule manufacture of proof gold dollars; the estimate often given is 10 to 15 pieces. In the June 2002 issue of The Numismatist, Craig Krueger and John W. Dannreuther "present observations on numeral styles that relate to all denominations and types" in an article titled "A New Slant on Coins 1850-56." The authors first point out that the technical term "italic" is preferred for a type style with characters that themselves slant, rather than an upright numeral or character that is merely entered into the die on a slanting angle.
    Krueger and Dannreuther note that it was an 1856 gold dollar, lot 586 in the August 1941 ANA auction conducted by Ira S. Reed, that provided the "first clue to the slanting-digit trend." The same Upright 5 dollar later reappeared in the Stack's October 1992 auction of the Floyd T. Starr Collection, where it was cataloged as a proof.
    The writers comment concerning the appearance of the Starr Collection coin:

    "When the same coin appeared [in the Starr Collection] of U.S. coins (Lot 1085), the following commentary was included in the description:

    'Breen has speculated that the Upright 5 [1856 gold dollar] variety was coined first, using the Half Dime date logotype, and that the Slanting 5 variety followed, using the Quarter Eagle date logotype. The former is known only from one or two obverse dies while the latter accounts for 24 dies. It is equally possible that the Upright 5 variety was the last to be struck, and not the first. When the date designs of all federal coinages struck 1855-1856 are examined it is clear that there was a trend away from the Slanting 5 design in favor of the Upright 5 for all denominations. There are some exceptions (the 1856 Gold Dollar and the 1856 large cent are the only two), but all others (save the 1855 Half Dime and Eagle, both of which had Upright 5's in 1855) show italic 5's in their dates in 1855 but upright ones in 1856. In this scenario, the 1856 Upright 5 Proof Gold Dollar was struck as an example of the new date adopted for the denomination in 1856.'

    "Clearly, our research definitively supports the latter proposition: that the 1856 'Upright 5' gold dollar came after and not before the 'Slanting 5' gold dollar variety. After examining all U.S. coin denominations in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the American Numismatic Society, it is irrefutable that the 5 in all denominations of U.S. coinage was italic between 1850 and 1856, and that upright, non-italic date logotypes followed their slanting counterparts."

    More recently, research by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth has revealed that all of the proof 1856 gold dollars are of the Slanted 5 variety; the Upright 5 in the Starr Collection, "which Breen believed to be Proof, was actually a prooflike business strike."
    The present Gem Ultra Cameo NGC coin is among nine to 15 pieces that we believe exist today, based on the Census we developed for a PR66 Star Ultra Cameo example in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2091, which realized $86,250. The following roster of proof 1856 gold dollars presents nine known and apparently distinctive specimens, with six others that may or may not be duplicates:

    1. PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. A piece brokered by Todd Imhof to a private gold collector.
    2. PR66 ★ Ultra Cameo NGC. Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 7/2002), lot 677; FUN Signature Auction (Heritage, 1/2010), Lot 2091.
    3. PR66 Cameo NGC. John F. McCoy Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 5/1864), lot 2001; William Lilliendahl; Sixth Semi-Annual Sale (Woodward, 3/1865), lot 2830; Mendes I. Cohen Collection (Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 242; Lorin G. Parmelee Collection(New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1267; William H. Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 856; Virgil Brand, ledger number 57034; F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 11; Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 11; Thomas Melish (Abe Kosoff, 4/1956), lot 1750; John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 872; Smith/Youngman Collection (Bowers and Merena, 3/2003), lot 2043; J.B. Worthington Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 5/2005), lot 360.
    4. PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. Pre-Long Beach Auction (Superior, 5/2004), lot 2252; Bob Simpson; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3392; The present specimen.
    5. PR65 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
    6. PR65 PCGS. Spring Sale (Stack's, 4/1978), lot 769; King of Siam Sale (Superior, 1/1993), lot 1266; ANA Signature Auction(Heritage, 8/1996), lot 8125; FUN Signature Auction (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3364.
    7. PR64 PCGS. Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907); lot 771; Clapp Collection (1942); Eliasberg Collection( Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 31; Connoisseur Sale (Superior, 1/1989), lot 259; Ed Trompeter Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 2; Commodore Mathew C. Perry Collection (Bowers and Merena, 1/1995), lot 1145.
    8. PR64 PCGS. Harry Bass purchased this coin from Bowers and Ruddy on 12/27/1971; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 5/2000), lot 28.
    9. Proof. Wayte Raymond; private collection since 1938; David Akers; Auction '85 (Paramount, 7/1985), lot 1367; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Core Collection.

    Other Examples:
    A. Proof. Charles Jay Collection (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 217; Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 11/1994), lot 1162
    B. Proof. R.C.W. Brock; University of Pennsylvania; Philip H. Ward, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 4/1964), lot 1603.
    C. Proof. Major Lenox R. Lohr (Stack's, 10/1956), lot 967, sold to "Dr. L." per Walter Breen.
    D. Proof. Brock; Morgan; ANS.
    E. Proof. Forty-Fifth Catalog (New Netherlands, 4/1955), lot 763; Q. David Bowers.
    F. PR65 NGC. The Riordan/Suwannee coin handled by Jeff Garrett in 2005 as part of a complete set of Type Three gold dollars in proof.

    This piece is a dazzling, essentially mark-free Gem with superlative contrast of the desired gold-on-black kind. Interestingly, some faint clash marks appear on the reverse. A few faint hairlines that appear under a loupe account for the grade, but the eye appeal is simply splendid.
    Ex: Superior (5/2004), lot 2252; Bob Simpson; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2010), lot 3392.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# B76E, PCGS# 97606)

    Weight: 1.70 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2011
    8th-10th Tuesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,577

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