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    Beautiful Near-Gem Proof 1903 Liberty Twenty
    Only Three Numerically Finer at PCGS

    1903 $20 PR64 PCGS. Although the mintage of proof 1903 double eagles is given as 158 coins--the highest of the Liberty Head series--this is a case where original mintage figures are meaningless. Most of those original proofs have long since disappeared. To survive to the present day, a proof 1903 Liberty twenty had to endure the Panic of 1907, World War I, the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, the Gold Recall of 1933--and any number of the unknown personal catastrophes that befall collectors from time to time. In addition, it had to be carefully stored, to prevent the value-destroying contact marks to which large proof gold coins are especially prone. (Some impaired proofs survive, including one graded PR50.)
    Estimates are that today, only 40 to 50 proof examples survive in all grades. PCGS has certified only three examples in PR65 grade--one a Cameo--and the present PR64 is one of 11 so certified there, also including one Cameo and likely duplicates. The Garrett-Bass PR65 PCGS example from the Bass II sale (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999, lot 1939, which realized $41,400) was later crossed into a PR65 Cameo NGC holder. We offered that later appearance in The Greenwich Collection, Part Two in our ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2004, lot 7707), where it realized $50,025. A PR64 Cameo that we offered in Platinum Night of our Dallas Signature (Heritage, 11/2005, lot 2477), realized $40,250. More recently, a PR64 example in the July 2009 Stack's offering of "Treasures from the S.S. New York" (lot 1539) brought $39,675.
    This coin is certified in a early green-label holder from PCGS, before it began certifying coins as Cameo and Deep Cameo. A Deep Cameo designation is unknown for the issue, but it is possible that this coin could achieve a Cameo designation today. The Mint's post-1901 changed method of manufacturing proof gold involved polishing the device crevices in the die along with the fields on the surface, reducing or eliminating the frosty devices on the coin. Dr. Robert Loewinger's proof gold reference calls the device effect "satiny or semibrilliant." Nonetheless, a few examples at each service of the 1903 are known with the Cameo designation--12 at NGC, seven at PCGS. The finest numerically graded pieces are a handful of PR65s (non-Cameo and Cameo) at both services combined, with duplicates all but certain.
    More important than estimating survivors is a comment that Garrett and Guth offer in their gold Encyclopedia concerning the 1903 proof twenty:

    "In recent years the demand for examples of the [Liberty Head] type in Proof has increased dramatically. The supply will most likely never meet the demand for these large, impressive coins."

    There is a reason for that huge demand, beside the unceasing hot market for gold overall: The Liberty Head coins in proof format are the last of the nation's "traditional" mirrored gold proof coinage, desirable and ultimately pleasing collector-grade examples of the largest gold denomination.
    This beautiful near-Gem proof boasts pleasing, even, rich orange-gold coloration in the deeply reflective, mirrored fields, with lighter yellow device high points that set up the considerable contrast mentioned previously. The strike is full throughout, and only a few light hairlines in the fields apparently have kept this coin from a Gem grade. Population: 10 in 64, 2 finer (6/10).(Registry values: P1)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 26ER, PCGS# 9119)

    Weight: 33.44 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2010
    8th-11th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,997

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
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