1859 Liberty Half Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo
1859 $5 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. Ex: Trompeter. After the
enthusiastic response to the Mint's first commercial proof offering
the year before, records indicate an overly optimistic total of 80
gold proof sets was struck in 1859. If the mintage was really this
large, the great majority of the coins must have gone unsold, to be
melted after the close of the year. Certainly nothing like this
many proof 1859 half eagles were ever distributed and experts agree
no more than 8-10 examples survive today in all grades, including
four that remain sequestered in institutional holdings. NGC and
PCGS have combined to certify a total of eight coins, including an
unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (4/15). We have
compiled a roster of the nine coins known to us below, with some
additional citations that may be earlier appearances of the coins
in the main roster or may represent coins that have been moving
outside of numismatic channels for a long time.
Rare Proof Gold Issue
Finest Known, Ex: Eliasberg-Trompeter
This delightful Premium Gem first surfaced in a New York Coin & Stamp auction 119 years ago. It was purchased by prominent collector John M. Clapp and remained in his family after his death until it passed to super collector Louis Eliasberg in 1942. Eliasberg was a connoisseur who formed the only complete collection of U.S. coins ever assembled. Eliasberg also retained this coin as long as he lived. It was auctioned with the rest of his collection in 1982 in one of the most famous and successful coin auctions of all time, realizing a then-remarkable price of $35,200. This piece has not been publicly offered for almost 33 years, and examples of the 1859 proof half eagle have realized much higher prices in their infrequent auction appearances in recent times. The record belongs to the PR65+ Cameo PCGS coin from the Royal Mint Museum that sold for $133,212 in 2013.
This coin is the finest-known example of this classic early proof rarity. It possesses extraordinary eye appeal to complement its high technical grade. The design elements are razor-sharp throughout and the deeply mirrored fields contrast dramatically with the frosty devices to create a stunning cameo effect. The well-preserved surfaces are free of mentionable distractions, but a small planchet flake above the I in FIVE serves as a pedigree marker. This is a coin for the most demanding proof gold specialist or Registry Set enthusiast. Census: 1 in 66 Ultra Cameo, 0 finer (4/15).
Roster of 1859 Proof Liberty Half Eagles
1. PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Mumford-Kalbfleisch-Hayden Collections (New York Coin & Stamp, 4/1896), lot 540; John M. Clapp; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 492; Ed Trompeter; Heritage Auctions; private collection. The present coin.
2. PR65+ Cameo PCGS. Professor John H. Alexander presented two complete minor, silver, and gold proof sets to the Royal Mint, London in 1859; Royal Mint Museum United States 1859 Proofs (Morton & Eden-Sotheby's, 3/2013), lot 610.
3. PR65 Deep Cameo, grade per Garrett and Guth. Mint Cabinet; National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
4. PR65 Cameo PCGS. John H. Alexander; Royal Mint Museum. This duplicate piece was retained by the Museum following the March 2013 Morton & Eden sale mentioned above.
5. PR64 Deep Cameo, grade per Garrett and Guth. Josiah K. Lilly Collection; National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
6. PR63 PCGS. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 254; Hans Schulman; Norweb Collection, Part I (Bowers and Merena, 10/1987), lot 858; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Merena, 11/2000), lot 473.
7. Very Choice Proof. Golden Jubilee Sale (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 383; John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part I (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 834k, part of an assembled 1859 proof set.
8. Proof. Robert C.H. Brock; J.P. Morgan; American Numismatic Society in 1908.
9. PR58 PCGS. Private collection.
A. Proof. George F. Seavey, part of a complete minor, silver, and gold proof set probably obtained directly from the Mint in 1859; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 821, not sold, as Lorin G. Parmelee purchased Seavey's entire collection before the sale took place; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1303; H.P. Smith, bidding as Clay; possibly William Woodin, exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition.
B. Proof. Colonel Mendes I. Cohen Collection (Edward Cogan, 10/1875), lot 180; a collector bidding as "Camden."
C. Proof. Thomas Cleneay Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890), lot 407, part of a six-piece gold proof set.
D. Proof. Sale 418 (J.C. Morgenthau, 10/1940), lot 62; possibly F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 413; Jacob Shapiro (aka J.F. Bell); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 360; Chadwick-Darnell Collections (Numismatic Gallery, 5/1952), lot 683.
E. Proof. Belden Roach Collection (B. Max Mehl, 2/1944), lot 588.
F. Proof. J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 383.
Ex: Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 28BU, PCGS# 98449)
Weight: 8.36 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties ]
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