1876 Half Eagle, PR66 Cameo
1876 $5 PR66 Cameo NGC. Ex: Trompeter. Mint records indicate
45 gold proof sets were struck in 1876, certainly a small number in
absolute terms, but actually a significant increase over the
typical mintage of previous years. The first 20 sets were delivered
on February 19 and these coins probably represent the standard
mintage for the year, as only 20 sets were struck in 1874 and 1875.
Another 25 sets were delivered on June 13, and these may have been
produced in connection with the Independence Centennial celebration
in Philadelphia that summer. Business-strike production was quite
small in 1876, as only 1,432 half eagles were struck at the
Philadelphia Mint and the branch mints all reported limited
production totals, as well. The elusive nature of the 1876 gold
proofs was recognized at an early date, as evidenced by the
following description of the set in lot 951 of the Heman Ely
Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884):
Tied for Finest Certified
"1876 Splendid proof set; this, the Centennial set, is extremely rare, the issue of the year being very small. 6 pieces."
PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population of 1876 proof half eagles at 25-30 examples in all grades and the two leading grading services have combined to certify a total of 29 coins (4/15). However, the small number of auction appearances in the modern era suggest an even smaller total. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth note:
"The disconnect between population data and auction records is, the authors theorize, because of a number of resubmissions at the PF-64 level."
In any case, the 1876 proof half eagle seems to be an underrated issue when compared to the more expensive 1875 proof five. The record price realized for a proof 1876 half eagle is $74,750, brought by the PR66 Cameo NGC specimen in lot 5400 of the Central States Signature (Heritage, 4/2011).
The present coin is tied with one other example at NGC for finest-certified honors. It claims an illustrious pedigree back to the 19th century and was included in the famous Trompeter Collection, probably the finest collection of proof gold coinage of all time. This impressive Premium Gem offers sharply detailed design elements, with a wire rim and richly frosted devices. The deeply mirrored fields create a bold cameo effect and the well-preserved yellow-gold surfaces add to the outstanding eye appeal. This coin will be a welcome addition to the finest collection or Registry Set. Census: 2 in 66 Cameo, 0 finer (4/15).
Ex: Nathan M. Kaufman in the 19th century; Kaufman Collection (RARCOA, 8/1978), lot 840; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 917; Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(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 Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties ]
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