Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1887 Double Eagle, PR66
    Last Proof-Only Twenty
    Obvious Cameo Effect

    1887 $20 PR66 NGC. Ex: Eagle Collection. The double eagle denomination went proof-only at Philadelphia for the last time in 1887, when 121 specimens were struck, though it is a virtual certainty that not all of those coins actually were sold, in keeping with the broader Mint trends of overproduction of proofs and subsequent melting of the remainder. Garrett and Guth comment that "There are fewer than 30 of these coins known in private hands, with many of these being impaired." It is a fitting finale to the sequence of seven highly elusive Philadelphia twenties beginning in 1881.

    This impairment is of particular concerns of Type Three double eagle collectors, as it affects all of the major dates. In the pre-Federal Reserve years, financial panics were not only sharp but alarmingly frequent. Among the most severe of these panics was that of 1893, when a combination of a popped speculative bubble in railroad stocks and a run on the U.S. Treasury's gold reserves caused widespread financial ruin. Many of the patricians who had spent tens of dollars every year on pretty gold coins, not to mention their heirs, must have found their proofs a tempting source of ready funds.

    Fortunately for today's collectors, this Premium Gem proof never experienced that fate. When it crossed the auction block as part of the Eagle Collection in January 2002, it was the single finest certified 1887 double eagle in the combined certified population. Its stature among its peers was made clear by its final result relative to then-recent auction appearances. The Byron Reed coin, "Choice Proof" (uncertified), brought $41,800 in 1996; the Bass example, PR64 PCGS, realized $41,400; and the Dallas Bank specimen, "Choice Brilliant Proof" (uncertified), went for $54,625. In January 2002, this piece brought $69,000, proof of how much collectors were willing to value its superior presentation over that of the Dallas Bank coin sold just three months earlier.

    Today the Eagle Collection example has rivals for the top spot in the combined certified population: a PR66 Deep Cameo specimen graded by PCGS, two PR66 Ultra Cameo examples graded by NGC, and the current leader, a PR67 Cameo NGC (11/13). Of course, this piece has been in the same holder for years and likely would not be assessed the same today; in 2002, Heritage noted the coin was "not yet designated as a cameo," and more than a decade later the lack of a Cameo at the end of the grade seems flat-out absurd.

    Impressive contrast between sharply struck, amply frosted devices and gloriously reflective fields with a faint reddish-tint and "orange-peel" texture is only the beginning of this specimen's eye appeal. Its all-around preservation is excellent with only a handful of light hairlines to act as grade-definers and pedigree markers. (The plastic over the upper part of the reverse shield has a scuff, but this does not affect the coin in any way.) Even if this coin bore another date, it would be a truly noteworthy piece of large-size classic gold; as an 1887 twenty, its stature is immense. Bid accordingly.
    Ex: Eagle Collection / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2002), lot 4150, which realized $69,000.
    From The Douglas Martin Collection.(Registry values: P5)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26E8, PCGS# 9103)

    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 Douglas Martin Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2014
    8th-12th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,684

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 30 days left to consign to the 2021 January 6 - 10 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando FUN!

    Learn about consigning with us

    I want to thank you for all of your assistance relative to my coin collection.
    Alan D.,
    Boston, MA
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search