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    Centennial-Year 1876 Double Eagle, PR63 Cameo
    Far Fewer Survivors Than Expected

    1876 $20 PR63 Cameo PCGS. We have often wondered about the mintage of the 1876 proofs in general compared to their subsequent survival. A glance at the Guide Book figures will confirm that the bookending double eagle proof issues of 1874 and 1875, as well as the 1877 and 1878, each had recorded mintage figures of 20 proofs per year, while the 1876 stands out at more than double, 45 pieces.

    The 1876 twenty dollar proof nonetheless appears nearly as rare as the above-named issues, with perhaps 15 surviving in all, including the Smithsonian example. It appears as though the Mint struck extra examples in the year of the American Centennial Exposition, which took place in Philadelphia, near the Mint.

    Even if that were the case, the 1876 twenty does not appear to have been saved in significantly higher numbers, at least not in terms of examples that have survived to the present day. One of the challenges to the existence of a proof double eagle over 140-150 years to today is the sheer face value, a sum that represented quite a lot of money until the 1940s. A collection containing a proof double eagle was always subject to being raided when times were hard or food was scarce. Various economic depressions including the Great Depression, two World Wars, and various personal calamities may have also prevented a greater survival of proof double eagles overall, regardless of the year and the number reportedly struck. It was also the Mint's usual habit to melt as unsold any examples that remained on hand at year-end, and that appears surely to be the case with the 1876.

    The present PR63 Cameo example is the sole Cameo in any grade certified at PCGS, although there are two Deep Cameo examples, one in PR64 and one in PR64+. This piece shows remarkably deep-mirrored fields that complement frosted devices, and the contrast seems even more profound because of the depth of mirroring. Slight, even reddish patina appears throughout, complementing the strong yellow-gold undertones. One mentionable scrape appears in the left obverse field, from below the chin to the field area near stars 3 and 4. A wonderful example of the "caviar of U.S. numismatics."
    From The Fenn Family Collection.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 25EK, PCGS# 89091)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The Fenn Family Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2013
    7th-10th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,639

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