1877 Liberty Half Eagle, PR65 Cameo
1877 $5 PR65 Cameo NGC. Ex: Trompeter. The 1877 Liberty half
eagle is a very rare issue in proof format and public offerings are
few-and-far-between. We are aware of only one auction appearance of
any 1877 proof half eagle in the last decade, the PR65 Cameo NGC
specimen that realized $64,625 in our January 2013 FUN sale
(another coin was sold in June 2005, just outside that time
period). The present coin has been off-the-market since 1978 and we
are privileged to present it here, in just its second auction
appearance since 1877.
Fewer Than 10 Examples Traced
Only 20 proof half eagles were struck in 1877, all for inclusion with the gold proof sets, which were delivered in two batches of 10 sets each on February 24 and May 31. Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth note:
"The Proof 1877 half eagle is a rarity of the highest magnitude. It is nearly certain that less than half of the tiny mintage of 20 coins remains ... The 1877 half eagle is one of the most difficult issues of the 1870s to obtain in Proof."
Currently, NGC and PCGS have combined to certify just eight examples in all grades, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (4/15). We have compiled a roster of all 1877 proof half eagles known to us below, including nine coins that we believe are separate examples, and a number of earlier citations that cannot be definitely linked to the coins in the main roster, but may well represent the same specimens in previous appearances.
The present coin is an attractive Gem that shows the diagnostic low placement of the date, but seems to be from an early die state that shows little of the evidence of die rust Breen noted on the chin. The design elements are sharply detailed throughout, with frosty devices that stand out dramatically against the deeply mirrored fields. The well-preserved greenish-gold surfaces are free of mentionable distractions, but a small lintmark near the right (facing) wingtip acts as a pedigree marker. Eye appeal is terrific and this coin claims an illustrious pedigree back to the 19th century in the famous Kaufman and Trompeter collections. Census: 2 in 65 Cameo, 0 finer (4/15).
Roster of 1877 Proof Half Eagles
1. PR65 Cameo NGC. Nathan M. Kaufman, part of a six-piece gold proof set; Louis G. Kaufman; N.M. Kaufman Collection (RARCOA, 8/1978), lot 841, set dispersed throughout the catalog; Ed Trompeter; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection. The present coin.
2. PR65 Cameo NGC. Blaise Dantone Collection (Lester Merkin, 3/1969), lot 326; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Merena, 11/2000), lot 530; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2013), lot 5885.
3. PR64 PCGS. David S. Wilson; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 542; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 918; Connoisseur's Collection (Superior, 1/1989), lot 125.
4. PR64 PCGS. Public Auction Sale (Stack's, 3/2002), lot 1114.
5. PR64 PCGS. Public Coin Auction (Quality Sales, 9/1973), lot 1185; Auction '80 (Paramount, 8/1980), lot 939; Auction '89 (David Akers, 7/1989), lot 1396; October Sale (Superior, 10/1990), lot 1926A; Chicago Sale (Superior, 8/1991), lot 725.
6. Very Choice Brilliant Proof. Garrett Collection, Part I (Bowers and Ruddy, 11/1979), lot 488; Dallas and Newport Beach Sale (Heritage, 6/1987), lot 4434; 1877 Collection (Stack's, 6/2005), lot 1482.
7. Brilliant Proof 64. Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1325.
8. PR64 Deep Cameo, per Garrett and Guth. Mint Cabinet, part of a complete 1877 proof set; National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
9. Proof. Robert C.H. Brock, part of a complete 1877 proof set; J.P. Morgan; American Numismatic Society.
A. Brilliant Proof. Possibly Phineas Adams; William J. Jenks; 69th Sale (John W. Haseltine, 6/1883), lot 414.
B. Proof. Heman Ely Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 1/1884), lot 952, part of a six-piece gold proof set.
C. Proof. Thomas Cleneay Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1890), lot 428, part of a six-piece gold proof set.
D. Proof. Major William B. Wetmore Collection (S.H. $ H. Chapman, 6/1906), lot 160, part of a six-piece gold proof set.
E. Proof. William H. Woodin, exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition.
F. Proof. James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 242.
G. Perfect Brilliant Proof. Jacob Shapiro (aka J.F. Bell); Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 401.
H. Brilliant Proof. F.C.C. Boyd; World's Greatest Collection(Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 431.
I. Brilliant Proof. Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 376.
J. Brilliant Proof. King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby's, 2/1954), lot 257; James Randall; ANA Convention Auction (Paramount, 8/1969), lot 1995.
K. Superb Brilliant Proof. Thomas Melish Collection (Abe Kosoff, 4/1956), lot 2153.
L. Proof, slightly rubbed. Samuel Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 10/1962), lot 516.
Ex: Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 28CE, PCGS# 88472)
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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