1861 $5 PR64 Cameo NGC. The official mintage of 66...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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1861 Five Dollar, PR64 Cameo
1861 $5 PR64 Cameo NGC. The official mintage of 66 proofs is
probably accurate for the 1861 half eagle. However, like other
denominations struck from 1859 through 1861, an unknown number were
melted. In fact, Breen records "At least 10 proofs melted Jan. 1862
as unsold." From the lack of survivors today, it would appear there
many more were melted later in the year. When one investigates the
auction appearances of the 1861, it is remarkable how many major
collections have lacked an example. This coin appears to be the
Eliasberg piece, as evidenced by the mark that runs parallel to
Liberty's eyebrow on this piece and in the Eliasberg catalog.
Only Three or Four Known in Private Hands
It is probable that only three or four pieces are in private collections of this rarity: The Trompeter coin that is graded PR66 Cameo and held in a private collection, a PCGS PR64 whose whereabouts are unknown (possibly this coin before it was designated as a Cameo?), a PCGS PR63 that is probably the same as the Stack's (10/92) example, and this coin. To these pieces, the ANA and ANS coins may be added but these are, of course, not available. This is certainly the only 1861 proof five on the market today.
The rich orange-gold surfaces are lightly hairlined (the viewer will need a magnifier, though). The fields are exceptionally deep in their mirrored reflectivity and the devices show a strong presence of mint frost that gives the coin its cameo contrast. The only marks of any note are the one mentioned above the eye of Liberty, and another shallow one on the chin. This is a major opportunity for the specialist in 19th century gold, and it is obviously a rare chance to add this date to a run of early proof fives.
Ex: James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922); John H. Clapp Collection, 1942; Louis Eliasberg Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 500. (NGC ID# 3ZGF, PCGS# 88451)
Weight: 8.36 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
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