Superb Gem Matte Proof 1912 Half Eagle
1912 $5 PR67 NGC. A century -- perhaps a touch more or less
-- has passed since this exquisite matte proof half eagle was
struck. At the time, the issue as a whole was not much in demand.
The changes to gold coinage designs that took place in 1907 and
1908 swept out the brilliant-mirror proof finish along with the
Gobrecht and Longacre effigies. In place of the mirrors, a matte
finish -- then popular in Europe -- was installed.
An Exquisitely Struck Marvel
The matte finish had its admirers among a subset of highly advanced collectors, but previously loyal customers complained in droves. In 1909 and 1910, the Mint experimented with a hybrid finish, popularly called "Roman gold," but the compromise was a wretched one, and by 1911, the Mint was back to a matte finish for gold proofs, which it carried on until 1915, the last of the classic proof dates.
To a certain extent, the matte proof gold issues remain polarizing today, or at least an acquired taste, though the overall reception is far better now. Collectors particularly prize the highest-end representatives, and a coin such as the present Superb Gem specimen certainly would qualify. Delicate facets give the honey-mustard surfaces the subtlest appearance of life but otherwise do not draw attention to themselves. The focus, instead, is on the crisply struck details, just as the European pioneers of matte proofs had intended. This exquisitely preserved piece is sure to appeal to proof gold connoisseurs. Census: 17 in 67, 3 finer (2/12).(Registry values: N10218) (NGC ID# 28E6, PCGS# 8543)
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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