PR65 Cameo 1879 Half Eagle, Only One Finer1879 $5 PR65 Cameo PCGS. Only 30 examples were coined of the 1879 proof half eagle in two deliveries, the first in January of 20 pieces, the second in November of 10 pieces. The two deliveries are apparently indistinguishable. While this mintage is slightly higher than for the 1878 and 1877 issues, each of which saw 20 pieces minted, the Garrett-Guth gold Encyclopedia says regarding the 1879 half eagle, "There have actually been fewer examples (of the 1879) offered at public auction than either of those two issues. The Smithsonian collection contains an example, but the coin is lightly hairlined, and is one of the lesser-grade coins in their collection of Proof Liberty half eagles. There are probably fewer than 10 survivors in all grades, and the 1879 half eagle is a great rarity in Proof." One cannot help but wonder if the issuance of the four dollar stella proof gold coins in 1879 could have influenced the number of survivors of the similarly dated half eagle. Could collectors owning specimens of both the four and five dollar coins have chosen to keep the unusual stellas and part with the more "common" half eagles by putting proofs into circulation when hard times came a-knocking?
The Breen proof Encyclopedia notes die polishing is present at ERT, the eye and ear, and on the scroll at WE ST, while his Complete Encyclopedia also notes a small "dent on top point of seventh star, rather than the notch seen there 1864-78."
The surfaces of this piece are unfathomably deep in their reflectivity. By way of contrast, the devices on each side are heavily frosted and show a cameo effect that most would perceive as borderline Deep Cameo. Bright yellow-gold color and nearly flawless.
Only once before within the past dozen-plus years have we handled a proof example of this issue. Its rarity is borne out by the current population data. While NGC shows five proof 1879s certified, PCGS adds only three more. The present PR65 Cameo specimen is the finest certified at PCGS, and exceeded only by a single PR66 Cameo piece at NGC (10/06).(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 28CG, PCGS# 88474)
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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