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    Extraordinarily Rare 1857 Proof Half Eagle, Unique in Collectors Hands

    1857 $5 PR65 Cameo NGC. Just two proof half eagles of 1857 are known to exist, and Harry Bass once owned both pieces! One of these was sold in November 2000 in Part IV of the Harry Bass auctions by Bowers and Merena, and the other example was retained by the Bass Foundation for display at the American Numismatic Association in Colorado Springs, CO. It is illustrated in The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Museum Sylloge by Q. David Bowers. The Smithsonian Institution does not have a proof example of this date.
    While we certainly don't know which example is finer, this remarkable Gem Cameo Proof should be considered the landmark specimen that it is. There is no rumor of a third example.
    When Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth prepared their 2006 Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins, it appears that they did not consult the Bass Museum Sylloge, for they wrote: "Only two examples are currently known for the date. The most recent appearance of a specimen was in the 2000 sale of the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection. The coin was graded by PCGS as PF-64, and realized $78,200. Bass had purchased the coin in a 1978 Stack's sale. The other surviving example was in the collection of Louis Eliasberg. His collection crossed the auction block in 1982. Just one example is now on the population rolls of NGC, ANACS, and PCGS. The current NGC PF-65 is probably the Harry W. Bass, Jr. coin." As wonderful as the Garrett-Guth reference is (and we use their information constantly), the commentary regarding this date would suggest that both pieces are available to collectors, and this is clearly not the case. This coin is unique in collectors hands, and the present opportunity to acquire this issue in proof format must be carefully considered. As Dave Bowers wrote in the Bass catalog: "The opportunity is incredible, and whether or not you ever own a proof 1857 may well be dependent upon whether you purchase [this] Bass Collection coin. Here is a numismatic beacon, an American landmark, a coin for the generations."
    This example has frosty yellow-gold design motifs with deeply mirrored olive-gold fields on both sides. A shallow planchet depression above the right side of the digit 8 is the only imperfection that we see, and this planchet flaw was present when the coin was struck. This tiny characteristic provides positive identification of the pedigree of this specimen.
    The following roster provides the currently known pedigree of both specimens of this amazing rarity.

    Proof. Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 223; John H. Clapp Collection (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 482; Superior (Auction '85, 7/1985), lot 948; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Core Collection.
    PR65 Cameo NGC. The piece offered here. Stack's (4/1978), lot 866; Stanley Kesselman; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 11/2000), lot 462.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 28BS, PCGS# 88447)

    Weight: 8.36 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 913

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    We also followed the bidding online yesterday here in Salt Lake for the other 3 coins - great fun. Prices realized met or exceeded our expectations.
    Thomas M.,
    Salt Lake City, UT
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