1862 Half Eagle, PR65 Ultra Cameo
    Tied for Second Finest of 12 Pieces Known

    1862 $5 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. Wartime hoarding of silver and gold coins kept mintages low throughout the Civil War. There was little incentive for the Mint to strike coins of either metal, since they would most likely either end up melted or exported. In the case of the half eagle, a huge mintage of 688,084 pieces was achieved in 1861. However, once secession and war between the states became a reality, uncertainty about the outcome was widespread throughout the North. The following year, 1862, saw the Mint only strike 4,430 half eagles for circulation, plus 35 proofs.
    Few collectors during those years actively sought out circulation strikes for a date set, and it was still 31 years before Augustus Heaton published his book Mint Marks. When possible, collectors would acquire a proof for a date set. But over the decades many proofs were spent, melted, or just plain lost. The result is today only 10 to 12 examples are known, of which three are permanently impounded in the Smithsonian and ANS. The estimates of the number of proofs known today have remained surprisingly constant over the years. Akers (1979): "probably only about 12-15 exist"; Breen (1988): "fewer than 12 traceable"; and Garrett and Guth (2006): "There are between 10 and 12 coins known."
    In terms of condition, this appears to be the second-finest example of the dozen or so known. It is tied for the second finest numerically with a NGC PR65 Cameo, and among Deep/Ultra Cameo coins only one piece is finer, a NGC PR66 Ultra Cameo. The rich reddish-gold surfaces show exceptional depth of mirrored reflectivity in the fields which establish stark contrast against the heavily frosted devices on each side. There is only one surface flaw of note, and that is Mint-made: In the right reverse field there is a thin planchet lamination that has the appearance of the profile of a seagull.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 28BX, PCGS# 98452)

    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
    August, 2010
    11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
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