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    1881 Liberty Five, PR66 Cameo
    Popular Proof Gold Rarity
    Ex: Kaufman-Trompeter

    1881 $5 PR66 Cameo NGC. Ex: Trompeter. The U.S. government resumed specie payments in 1879, making it easier and less expensive for collectors to order gold proof sets. At first, the effect on consumer demand was minimal, but by 1881 the new conditions had begun to make an impact. Mintage of gold half eagles increased to 42 pieces in 1881, far more than the typical 20 to 30-piece production totals of the 1870s, and proof mintages would continue to increase throughout the decade. Forty examples were struck on February 19 for inclusion with the gold proof sets, which were delivered on March 26. Two more half eagles were struck later, one in June and a final specimen in December.

    Walter Breen notes all the sets were sold by June 30, so none were melted after the end of the year. Possibly half the reported mintage survives today, so many of the coins must have been disposed of by their owners, either melted or spent for face value during hard times in the 19th century, when gold proofs carried small numismatic premiums and five dollars represented a significant amount of spending power. NGC and PCGS have combined to certify a total of 17 coins between them, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers (4/15). One coin is included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and another is in the collection of the American Numismatic Society.

    A new obverse hub was used to make the die, as the positions of the stars differ from those in earlier years. The stars are all closer to the borders on the 1881 obverse, especially star 13. Star 4 points to the upper part of a dentil, rather than the space between, as on the 1880 proof obverse. The point of star 7 is broken off at the top. The date slants up to the right and die polish shows on IBERTY and the ear. The curl behind the neck is broken at the top, a feature seen on many later proof obverses.

    The present coin traces its history to the famous collections of Nathan M. Kaufman and Ed Trompeter, two of the most remarkable gold collections of all time. This delightful Premium Gem offers sharply detailed frosty design elements that contrast boldly with the deeply mirrored fields to create an attractive cameo effect. A high wire rim around the coin is interrupted by a few minor rim bruise, but the impeccably preserved surfaces add to the tremendous eye appeal. Census: 2 in 66 Cameo, 3 finer (4/15).
    Ex: Nathan M. Kaufman,in the 19th century; Louis G. Kaufman; N.M. Kaufman Collection (RARCOA, 8/1978), lot 845; Auction '79 (Paramount, 7/1979), lot 318; Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
    From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 28CJ, PCGS# 88476)

    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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    August, 2015
    12th-16th Wednesday-Sunday
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