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    Important 1864 Eagle, PR64 Ultra Cameo
    Perhaps 12-15 Proofs Known Today

    1864 $10 PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. The present eagle proof gold coin from 1864 is the next-to-last component of our offering of a complete six-piece 1864 gold proof set, as well comprising the gold dollar, quarter eagle, three dollar, half eagle, and double eagle, each coin certified by NGC as Ultra Cameo in grades ranging from PR64 to PR66. Each coin in the set is offered as a separate lot in relevant sections throughout this auction.
    Despite a recorded proof mintage of some 50 pieces, the Mint records fail to tell present-day collectors how many of those pieces were actually sold to collectors, as opposed to being melted as unsold and left on the record books, a common Mint practice of the day. It is less likely but still quite possible that some of the mintage was put into circulation, either unsold pieces from the Mint or some sold to collectors who later found themselves in financial straits when 10 dollars was a lot of money.
    Walter Breen's Proof Encyclopedia gives these diagnostics for the proof eagles, visible on this piece:

    "Date well to left, 1 about midway between bust and border or slightly higher, logotype slants down; left base of 1 minutely r. of left edge; r. base of 4 almost over center of a dentil. Rev. Top of second and base of third red [i.e., vertical] stripes thin. About as rare as the half eagle but brings more."

    Further down, Breen also offers in the discussion of complete proof sets for 1864, "Why the gold is rarer than that of 1862 despite its larger mintage is unknown. A most frustrating year for collectors, between the gold and the bronze." The mintage of 1862-dated gold proof sets was 35.
    David Akers, in his classic work on gold, United States Gold Coins: An Analysis of Auction Records (volume five), offers this: "Proofs are very rare but are the most often encountered of this No Motto type. Perhaps 12-15 pieces are known." Two of those examples reside in the Smithsonian Institution. Garrett and Guth offer similar thoughts in the second edition of their Gold Encyclopedia, remarking on the duplications in the certified populations and calling the 1864 proof eagle a "very difficult coin to locate in any grade." Our Permanent Auction Archives extending back to 1993 certainly bear that out. A PCGS Gem proof non-Cameo example from the fabled Gold Rush Collection in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2005), lot 30061, traded hands for $149,500 more than six years ago. A PR65 Cameo NGC piece in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2010), lot 2221, brought $161,000. Among Ultra/Deep Cameo examples, the finest we have offered is a PR64 Ultra Cameo NGC example that brought $74,750 in our ANA Signature (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 2059. The present coin is tied in grade with that example as among the finest Ultra Cameos we have ever handled.
    NGC reports four submissions including the present coin at the PR64 Ultra Cameo grade level with four Ultra Cameos numerically finer, although it is virtually certain those do not represent eight separate coins. The surface color is light yellow-gold overall on the amply frosted, sharply struck devices and the boldly mirrored fields; tilting the coin slightly produces a desirable, intense "gold-on-black" effect. A few tiny planchet flaws appear on each side, and a lint mark curls to the left of star 13 on the obverse. Several light but long hairlines appear in the fields, particularly on the reverse, and a short sequence of minuscule contacts is noted to the left of Liberty's forehead. These are minor quibbles in relation to the overall intense eye appeal and monumental importance of this coin. Census: 4 in 65 Ultra Cameo, 4 finer (9/11).(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 28F2, PCGS# 98800)

    Weight: 16.72 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2011
    13th-16th Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 11
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,494

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