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    1886 Liberty Double Eagle, PR67 Deep Cameo
    Classic 19th Century Gold Rarity
    Tied for Finest Certified

    1886 $20 PR67 Deep Cameo PCGS Secure. The 1886 proof twenty is one of the rarest and most sought-after issues of the Liberty double eagle series. Only 106 proof double eagles were struck in 1886 and it is certain that far fewer examples survive today. PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at 20-25 specimens in all grades, a reasonable figure considering the number of times the issue appears at auction. NGC and PCGS have combined to certify 33 examples in all levels of preservation (9/16), including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers. There are two coins in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, and another specimen in the collection of the American Numismatic Society, reducing the number of coins available to collectors considerably. In addition, several examples are known in impaired condition. Heritage Auctions is pleased to offer this spectacular Superb Gem, which is tied with one other example at NGC for finest-known honors, in its first auction appearance in 24 years.

    Citizens in the Eastern part of the United States were accustomed to using paper money by 1880, reducing the demand for large twenty dollar gold coins in everyday transactions. However, the Western United States was still largely a "hard money" economy at the time, and gold was often the preferred method of settling large accounts in foreign trade. As a result, for most of the 1880s the Philadelphia Mint's policy was to produce larger numbers of small-denomination gold coins and limit the production of double eagles. The branch mints, especially San Francisco, continued to strike large numbers of double eagles to meet the different needs of their regional economies and provide specie for foreign trade. As a result, only 1,000 business-strike Liberty twenties were coined at the Philadelphia Mint in 1886.

    Despite the reduced mintage of business-strikes, the Philadelphia Mint faithfully struck gold proof coins throughout this era, to satisfy what was probably modest, but reliable, collector demand. Accordingly, a generous mintage of 106 proof Liberty double eagles was produced in 1886, to complement the small regular-issue production. For reasons that are difficult to understand, none of the branch mints struck any double eagles in 1886, making the tiny Philadelphia emissions the only options for date collectors of all regions. Twenty five coins were struck in February, for inclusion in the proof sets, but proof double eagles continued to be produced throughout the year, perhaps indicating continuous demand. Of course, the number of double eagle collectors was quite small in 1886, and it is likely that many of the proofs struck late in the year went unsold, to be melted for recoinage after year's end. In later years, when collecting double eagles became very popular, this would place great pressure on the remaining small supply of proofs.

    In most early auction appearances, the 1886 proof Liberty double eagle was offered as part of a complete gold proof set, but those sets were almost all broken up long ago. Today the coins are almost exclusively offered individually and P. Scott Rubin estimates an example of the 1886 proof twenty appears at auction about once per year. The record price realized for the issue is $305,500, brought by the spectacular PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC example in lot 5462 of the Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2015).

    The present coin is a delightful Superb Gem, with sharply detailed design elements throughout and deeply mirrored fields. The frosty devices seem to float on the reflective fields, creating a stunning cameo effect. Areas of die polish are evident by the ear and down the neck, adjacent to the lower curls. The lemon-yellow surfaces are impeccably preserved and show the slight orange-peel texture often seen on high quality 19th century gold proofs. Eye appeal is extraordinary. This coin is destined for the finest collection or Registry Set. Population: 1 in 67 Deep Cameo, 0 finer (11/16).
    Ex: Century Collection Sale (Superior, 2/1992), lot 3105.
    From The Azalea Collection.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 26E7, PCGS# 99102)

    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 Azalea Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    4th-9th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,628

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