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    The Bass Collection Proof 1858 Half Eagle

    1858 $5 PR66 ★ Ultra Cameo NGC. The date is delicately formed, and close to the bust truncation, but each digit is clearly separated from the neck. The placement is above center, with each digit farther from the border. Liberty's nose has a tiny pimple or wart, level with the lower eyelid. Otherwise, the dies appear to be perfectly made. The mintage of proof examples is not known with certainty, but couldn't have been very large. Today, only five examples are accounted for, and this Bass Collection specimen is nearly the finest. A single finer example has been certified by NGC. The following five examples are known:
    1. National Numismatic Collection; Smithsonian Institution.
    2. Ed Cogan (3/29/1882); J. Colvin Randall; J. Pierpont Morgan; ANS.
    3. James Ten Eyck (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922); John H. Clapp; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 388; Ed Trompeter.
    4. Lorin G. Parmelee; William H. Woodin; Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery), lot 412; J.F. Bell; "Memorable," lot 359; King Farouk (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 253; Ullmer, lot 446; Mocatta Metals; 1979 ANA (New England), lot 176; Dr. Nelson Page Aspen (Bowers and Merena, 8/1989), lot 551; Auction '90, lot 1323.
    5. The present specimen.
    Deeply mirrored fields surround incredible frosty yellow-gold devices to provide a stunning physical appearance. The cameo contrast is remarkable. Sharply struck as it should be, with every design element perfectly detailed. A few tiny lint marks, especially on the reverse, serve as pedigree identifiers. These are strictly as produced, and aside from the faintest wispy hairlines, the surfaces are immaculate. In his description for the Bass catalog, Dave Bowers reminded his readers of an earlier time when hairlines were called "haymarks," further noting: "the trivial nature of the marks instantly excuses them in the viewer's eye." The true connoisseur, who appreciates the finest in numismatics, should not (Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 37WY, PCGS# 98448)

    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
    March, 2006
    2nd-3rd Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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