Phenomenal PR67 Ultra Cameo 1899 Twenty Dollar Gold

    1899 $20 PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. The mintage for the 1899 proof twenty is recorded as 84 pieces, but it is more than likely that only perhaps two dozen examples--and certainly no more than 30--pieces exist, based on the certified combined population at NGC and PCGS of 46 submissions. In fact, it may be that even an estimate of two dozen survivors is on the high side. While the Smithsonian Institution collection contains multiple examples of most proof Liberty double eagles, the collection has only a sole example of the 1899--one that is in PR63 condition. At NGC this phenomenal PR67 Ultra Cameo piece is tied with two others (or one coin submitted twice) for finest honors, while at PCGS the single finest certified of the issue is a PR66 Cameo (1/08).
    It is worth mentioning that any Liberty Head proof double eagle is a rare bird, indeed. While Heritage has offered nearly 48,000 business strike Liberty Head twenties, it has offered only 319 proof Liberty Head twenties, regardless of date.
    As for the present specimen, in PR67 Ultra Cameo it is the finest of the issue, by two grade points, that Heritage has ever had the privilege to offer. Only 12 times in the past have we offered a proof 1899 double eagle, the finest a PR66 Cameo that went unsold in November 2006. All of the remaining examples were graded PR65 or below, including a circulated, impaired proof. And of those dozen previous examples, only a single PR63 piece had Deep/Ultra Cameo surfaces.
    A four-digit date logotype was used on all dies from all mints. On the Trompeter Collection specimen (and likely on all proofs), the date was punched somewhat low and to the right, with the 1 in the date closer to the dentils than to the neck. Business strikes show closed loops on the 9s in the date from dies that were heavily impressed with the date logo punch, and slightly open loops on coins from dies that were less heavily impressed. The 18 is closest, with the 89 widest, and 99 slightly closer than 89.
    With the current feverish markets for gold and precious metals, type gold--and proof gold--along with many other numismatic market segments are seeing spillover from the bullion markets. Given the present state of the economy, the most likely scenario is that proof gold, especially in high grade, will see continuing long-term demand, both from numismatic connoisseurs as well as others seeking to diversify their holdings.
    It is almost a given that this phenomenal specimen should expect to see a record or near-record price, but what the specific price of this rarefied piece might be is open to question. Most of the commonly used price guides, such as Coin World's "Trends/Coin Values," the PCGS online Price Guide and print Rare Coin Market Report, the Coin Dealer Newsletter, and the Guide Book do not even publish prices for the 1899 in PR67.
    It is interesting to note that all four denominations of 1899 proof gold offered in this sale all share common surface characteristics beyond their cameoed appearance. The obverses all show the expected orange-peel effect, while the reverses all show fine die striations with a lessened orange-peel appearance. It may be a stretch, but it is possible that these coins were all produced around the same time and may have even been produced by the same press operator, given the similarity in their surfaces. This piece shows illimitable depth of mirrored reflectivity in the fields, and the devices are starkly contrasted against the fields. Each side is nearly perfect in terms of physical preservation, with no obvious or mentionable contact marks on either side.
    From The Ultra Collection.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 26EL, PCGS# 99115)

    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 Ultra Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    March, 2008
    6th-7th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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    The pre-sale publicity was more than I imagined, and the actual catalog better than I had expected - and my expectations were high!
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    Allamonte Springs, FL
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