1876 Half Eagle, PR66 Cameo
    First Proof Offered at Auction Since 2006

    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. Two 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. It is worth noting that this is the first 1876 proof five, of any grade or finish, to have been offered at public auction since 2006.
    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 offered here, clearly a proof example, matches Breen's description for B-2. Further, two examples that we sold in the 2006 FUN Auction, each graded by NGC as PR65 Ultra Cameo, were struck from two different obverse dies, representing each of the two varieties Breen describes. There is no question that those coins were both proof examples. We have now identified two different die varieties and can speculate that one 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 Premium Gem Cameo proof that will be a prized possession of the successful bidder.
    From The Slotkin Family Trust Collection.(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.

    View all of [The Slotkin Family Trust Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    Apr-May, 2011
    27th-1st Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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