Virtually Pristine 1911 Superb Gem Proof Half Eagle1911 $5 PR67 NGC. The Indian design half eagles, along with quarter eagles, eagles, and double eagles of the same 1908 to 1915 period were all struck in a matte or sandblast finish. The Mint in Philadelphia was experimenting with different types of finish for proof coins of the various denominations, including cents and nickels. Silver proofs of this same period retained the brilliant, deeply mirrored appearance. In his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, Walter Breen discussed numerous types of finish for the various proof gold coins. Among these are the Light Matte, Dark Matte, and Roman Gold styles. The Roman Gold finish has a satiny and lustrous appearance. In 1911, Breen's description of the finish was: "Matte finish, dull and darker than unc., nearest to 1908 but differing minutely in texture of grain." As desirable as this finish is today, it was a detriment to these coins when they were first produced. Their unpopularity with collectors of the time undoubtedly led to the destruction of many specimens as unsold. Still others were mishandled over the years by collectors who did not appreciate their true rarity. As a result, survivors of the 139-piece proof delivery of 1911 Indian Half Eagles are rare in all grades with a rapidly dwindling certified population above the PR65 grade level.
This example is extremely sharply struck, as are nearly all matte proof gold issues. The surfaces have a grainy appearance with thousands (millions?) of tiny bright gold facets when examined under magnification. Virtually as struck, the surfaces are void of any blemishes. The closest examination with strong magnification has failed to reveal even the smallest imperfection--no contact marks, shiny spots, or dark spots. The coin is "as struck"--a perfect, flawless proof at the pinnacle of perfection. The only possible pedigree marker is a light irregular toning spot just beneath the I of UNITED. Census: 8 in 67, 4 finer (11/05).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 28E5, PCGS# 8542)
Weight: 8.36 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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