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    Impressive Cameo Proof 1876 Half Eagle

    1876 $5 PR66 Cameo NGC. We submit that this specimen is almost certainly the finest known proof 1876 half eagle. It is tied with one other example for the finest numerically graded proof of this date, both certified PR66 Cameo by NGC. These are the only two pieces (assuming there are two examples) graded by either service at this grade level, regardless of contrast. Three examples certified as PR64 Deep Cameo are the best that PCGS has certified. Like the other proof gold coinage of 1876, just 45 examples were coined, with 20 of these delivered on February 19, and the other 25 coins delivered on June 13. Possibly 20 examples survive today, probably fewer.
    How many die varieties are known for the 1876 proof half eagles? In his Proof Encyclopedia, Walter Breen identified a proof variety that he called B-1: "Low date, left base of 1 over left edge [of a dentil], lump on neck just below jaw, vertically above 1." He continued to describe a business strike variety that he called B-2: "lump on cheek, vertically below pupil, on level with earlobe; left base of 1 above space." The coin that is offered here, clearly a proof example, matches Breen's description for B-2. Further, two examples that we sold this past January in our Platinum Night sale at the FUN Convention, each graded by NGC as PR65 Ultra Cameo, were struck from two different obverse dies, representing each of the two varieties described by Breen. There is no question that those coins were both proof examples. We have now identified two different die varieties, and can speculate that one of these was used for the February delivery and the other for the June delivery, but we clearly cannot assign a specific variety to the two deliveries. Until now, it was believed that all 1876 proof half eagles were struck from a single die pairing.
    This example has remarkable aesthetic appeal with lustrous devices and deeply mirrored fields. Both sides have rich orange-gold color in the fields with lighter yellow-gold on the devices. It has a nicely balanced look. The design elements on both sides are fully detailed, including the slightest individual characteristics. The fields have fine die polishing lines visible on close inspection, and these are mixed with a few of the slightest hairlines. A remarkable Gem Cameo proof that will be a prized possession of the successful bidder.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 28CD, PCGS# 88471)

    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 Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2006
    13th-14th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,145

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