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    1880 Double Eagle, PR65 Deep Cameo
    Incredible Proof Rarity
    Ex: Bass, The Finest Known

    1880 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS Secure. CAC. The 1880 is one of the rarest proof double eagles of the 1870s and 1880s. Mint records show 36 examples were coined, but whether or not the entirety of that mintage was actually sold is uncertain. Additionally, a number were likely spent during hard economic times shortly after their issuance; a twenty dollar gold piece represented a substantial sum in the late 19th century, and any examples that would have entered circulation likely stayed there until they were either unidentifiable as proofs, or were later melted.

    Survival estimates vary slightly, though the long-held belief is that only eight to 10 examples are extant in all grades. Our research supports this assessment, as we can confirm the existence of only eight individual coins, three of which are unattainably secured in museum holdings (two in the Smithsonian Institution and one in the American Numismatic Society Collection). Furthermore, the incredibly low availability of the other five confirmed representatives makes the proof 1880 double eagle, for all intents and purposes, even rarer than that paltry surviving population would imply; over the past three decades only three different coins have been offered at auction, making a total of just four individual appearances.

    The historic piece here offered traces its pedigree back to the legendary Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, and was previously housed in a PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC holder; while it is now encapsulated by PCGS as PR65 Deep Cameo with a CAC label, it still ranks as the finest-known proof 1880 double eagle. The eye appeal is simply remarkable, with fully frosted, virtually untouched devices boldly contrasting against seemingly infinite depth of mirroring in the fields. The design definition is needle-sharp, as one would expect on a proof, and only a few wispy hairlines in the fields (not from cleaning) seem to have deterred PCGS from granting it an even finer grade. Pedigree-identifying surface marks are nearly nonexistent, though we note a microscopic tick on the cheek near the mouth and another in the reverse field below the tip of the eagle's tailfeathers to be suitable for future identification.

    When this coin was offered in the sale of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection by Bowers and Merena in 1999, it was described as "An impressive and beautiful specimen of the rare Proof 1880 double eagle ..." That cataloger went on to note:

    "Many of the finest collections of double eagles ever assembled lacked a Proof striking of this date. Among the relatively few that remain today, the present coin is of a quality that no finer pieces have been graded by PCGS."

    Here, this truly formidable rarity comes to the auction block once again, offering the advanced proof double eagle specialist a long-awaited opportunity to acquire an issue that even Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. himself never owned. Population: 1 in 65 Deep Cameo, 0 finer (6/14).

    Roster of Proof 1880 Double Eagles
    1. PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. Dr. Wilson S. Rise Collection (Stack's, 9/1966), lot 17; Public Auction Sale (Kreisberg-Cohen, 6/1970), lot 1973; Stanley Kesselman; purchased by Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 1878. The present coin.
    2. PR65 Cameo NGC. Possibly Dr. Charles W. Green (B. Max Mehl, 4/1949), lot 749; Amon G. Carter, Jr. Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 922; Ed Trompeter; sold via private treaty by Heritage Auctions circa 1999.
    3. PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. N.M. Kaufman Collection (Rarcoa, 8/1978), lot 928; Pre-Long Beach (Superior Galleries, 1/2004), lot 3761.
    4. PR64 Deep Cameo. National Numismatic Collection (Smithsonian Institution), grade per Garrett and Guth.
    5. PR64 Deep Cameo. National Numismatic Collection (Smithsonian Institution), grade per Garrett and Guth.
    6. PR63 Cameo NGC. Henry Miller; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5284.
    7. Choice Brilliant Proof. Purchased directly from the Mint by T. Harrison Garrett (2/1880); Garrett Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1980), lot 797.
    8. Proof. R.C.H. Brock; J.P. Morgan; American Numismatic Society Collection.

    Additional Appearances
    A. Proof. Heman Ely; Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), lot 955, as part of a six-piece proof set.
    B. Proof. Thomas Cleneay Collection (Chapman Brothers, 12/1890), lot 431, as part of a six-piece proof set.
    C. Proof. Major W.B. Wetmore Collection (Chapman Brothers, 6/1906), lot 163, as part of a six-piece proof set.
    D. Proof. David S. Wilson, Esq. Collection (S.H. Chapman, 3/1907), lot 430, as part of a six-piece proof set, bought by Henry Chapman at $125.00.
    E. Proof. James B. Wilson Collection (Thomas L. Elder, 10/1908), lot 64, as part of a six-piece proof set.
    F. Brilliant Proof. W.F. Dunham Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1941), lot 2323.
    G. Brilliant Proof. F.C.C. Boyd, World's Greatest Collection (Kosoff and Kreisberg, 1/1946), lot 883.
    H. Brilliant Proof. William Cutler Atwater Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1946), lot 1272.
    I. Brilliant Proof. Jacob Shapiro (a.k.a. J.F. Bell); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 700, possibly same as G.
    J. Brilliant Proof. Jacob Shapiro (a.k.a. J.F. Bell); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 932.
    K. Proof. Public Auction Sale (Kreisberg-Cohen, 11/1970), catalog not available for comparison.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 26DZ, PCGS# 99096)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2014
    5th-9th Tuesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,194

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