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    Spectacular, Extremely Rare PR65 Ultra Cameo 1875 Eagle, Tied for Finest Known

    1875 $10 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. 1875 is a watershed year in American numismatics, alongside 1793, 1837, 1873, and 1908 as other historic years that spring immediately to mind. The Mint Act of 1873--known to Western silver mining interests as the "Crime of '73"--had abolished trimes, half dimes, and silver dollars. The ill-conceived twenty cent piece was introduced in 1875 and coined at three mints as a sop to those interests, with the mintages getting proportionally smaller as one moves west to east. Trade dollars were coined in San Francisco, Carson City, and Philadelphia in 1875, with total production exceeding 6.25 million pieces. Pressure mounted for new uses of silver, both domestic and international, fueled by the immense treasure troves unearthed from the Comstock Lode, whose silver output from 1876 through 1878 would peak with extractions of ore worth about $36 million per year. Those same mints were also busy making Liberty Seated dimes worth more than $2.4 million, quarters worth $1.28 million, halves worth $5.12 million, and double eagles worth $32.7 million. In addition, the Philadelphia Mint succeeded in churning out more than 13 million Indian cents, a typical mintage for the era.
    The victims of these massive coinages were the smaller gold pieces: Ranging from the Indian Princess gold dollar and three dollar through the Liberty Head quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle, including proofs, the total face value minted--all in Philadelphia--for 1875 was an amazingly paltry $3,830 worth of coins. While the proof-only 1875 three dollar gold is "one of the half dozen most famous rarities in American coinage" (Breen proof Encyclopedia), all other 1875-dated gold coins save for the double eagle are also quite rare and elusive in their own right. The Breen Complete Encyclopedia calls the 1875 dollar and quarter eagle "very rare"; only about nine business strike 1875 half eagles are known; and Breen calls the 1875 eagle--both business strikes, of which 100 were minted, and proofs, 20 pieces--"extremely rare." The current population data (with undoubted duplications) at NGC and PCGS show a total of 17 business strike eagles ranging from VF to AU55 (with most in the XF range), and 14 proofs from circulated PR45 up to two pieces graded PR65 Ultra Cameo at NGC. Mint State business strikes are unknown, and collectors seek out not only the rare business strikes, but also exemplary proof specimens, as they are inevitably found nicer than the circulation strikes. The present PR65 Ultra Cameo specimen is one of two coins so graded at NGC, and is tied for the finest graded at either service (10/06). The highest-graded examples at PCGS are five PR64 pieces, in varying states of cameo contrast.
    Interestingly for such a tiny mintage, the business strikes and proofs of 1875 were coined from different dies. This example closely mirrors the characteristics Breen enumerates for proofs: The date is low and further to the left than on business strikes, with the left base of the 1 over the left edge of a dentil. The top of the second stripe in the shield is weak and narrow.
    Ex: ANA Las Vegas (Bowers and Merena, 10/05), lot 7593.
    From The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 37AC, PCGS# 98815)

    Weight: 16.72 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,317

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