Spectacular PR65 Deep Cameo 1862 Twenty1862 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. Only in 1859 did the Mint begin publicly offering proof gold coins (and other coins) to collectors. The 1862 double eagle, with a recorded proof emission of only 35 pieces, is among the lowest-mintage double eagles of the era. While the proof mintage of double eagles in 1861 is reported as 66 pieces, why the 1862 mintage sank to nearly half of that number is unknown, although an intelligent guess might be doubts related to the outcome of the Civil War. Even the business-strike double eagle mintage plummeted, from nearly 3 million pieces in 1861 to a bit more than 92,000 coins in 1862. Proof Type One double eagles of any date are extremely desirable and infrequently encountered.
The Breen Proof Encyclopedia calls this issue "in the same rarity class with the eagle and half eagle," and the Breen Complete Encyclopedia says, " Possibly 12-15 proofs known, some impaired." David Akers commented in 1982, "This date is very scarce in all grades, and is especially difficult to locate in high grade. In fact, it is more likely to be found in Proof than it is in AU or Unc. ... Proofs of 1862 are very rare but are encountered with greater regularity than most other proofs prior to 1881. I estimate that 12-13 proofs still exist out of the original 35 mintage."
The authors of the indispensable Garrett-Guth Gold Encyclopedia wrote, "The 1862 issue is probably the earliest Type 1 double eagle likely to be encountered in Proof. Although the mintage is fewer than for the previous few years, more examples have survived. There are probably only about a dozen examples known, including two in the Smithsonian and another in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. Any Type 1 double eagle is a major rarity in Proof, and the demand for the issue far outstrips the supply. The auction record for the issue goes to a gem Proof coin sold in 1998 for $203,500. The average grade seen for the issue is usually PF-63 or PF-64." Confirming those comments, a search through our permanent auction archives reveals that this is only the second example, and the first Gem, that Heritage has had the privilege to offer. PCGS has graded exactly four examples of the 1862 in proof condition, with the present piece the finest graded, the only Gem, and the only one with the Deep Cameo designation. At NGC, that service has graded six pieces, including two PR65 Ultra Cameo examples as the finest (11/06).
Examples of this issue have the medium-width date shallowly set into the die, about midway between the bust and the denticles. The left base of the 1 in the date is over a space between two denticles. The numerals are about equidistant, and the 2 is delicate, with a curved base, and well formed, although a tiny hump shows on the top side of the curved base.
On the reverse of this piece a few of the horizontal shield lines are thinner on their right (facing) sides because of die lapping, and the last three sets of vertical shield lines are also thinner due to lapping. This spectacular example has that most elusive of coin criteria, eye appeal, in spades, and despite the Gem Deep Cameo assessment from PCGS, appears quite conservatively graded. The deeply contrasting, "gold-on-black" appearance so coveted in proof gold is quite evident here, with profoundly mirrored fields and thickly frosted devices. The mint frost is extremely deep on the obverse, but is even thicker on the reverse. Although the pristine quality of the piece does not provide much in the way of distinctive pedigree markers, we can point to a small unfrosted patch on Liberty's neck, near the juncture with the lowest curl. While we cannot say conclusively whether this is or is not the former Eliasberg specimen (sold as a PR67 coin), this example does look quite similar in quality and overall appearance to that famous specimen. We provide below a partial list of known specimens in order of condition, including some possible duplications, as mentioned above:
PR67. Eliasberg Collection; Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982: 907.
PR65 DCAM PCGS. Robert C. Wynsen Collection (David Akers, 5/1998). The present specimen.
PR65. Davis-Graves Sale (Stack's, 4/1954), lot 872; Harold S. Bareford (Stack's, 12/1978), lot 229; Auction '79 (Paramount, 7/1979), lot 370.
PR65. Paramount (Auction '82, 8/1982), lot 1963.
PR64 NGC. Heritage (4/1999), lot 6260, $78,775.
PR64 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
PR63 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
PR63 NGC. Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 398; Robison Collection; Ed Trompeter Collection (Superior, 3/1992).
This spectacular Gem coin, certainly among the finest certified examples, is destined for a top-notch gold or type set, and will undoubtedly form a centerpiece of any collection that it graces. Connoisseurs of proof gold, take note.
Pictured in Proof Gold Coins of the United States by Robert J. Loewinger, M.D., on page 69 to illustrate Longacre's Coronet Head (Liberty Head), No Motto design (as NGC PR65 Ultra Cameo).
From The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection.(Registry values: P7) (PCGS# 99074)
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