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    Vivid 1884 Gem Proof Half Eagle, Ultra Cameo

    1884 $5 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. The 1884 half eagle is considered one of the underrated issues in proof format due to its sheer rarity. Breen, in both his Encyclopedia of United States Proof Coins and Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins considered the number of pieces extant to be fewer than a dozen, calling it "extremely rare" and "one of the great sleepers" in the former tome. Garrett and Guth, in their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933 state that fewer than 20 are known in all grades. The major grading services have combined to certify a total of sixteen pieces, likely including resubmissions, and at least three are in museums and permanently off the market.
    Perhaps more importantly to the collector interested in acquiring such a piece, proof 1884 half eagles are rarely offered at auction at all in any grade. The last record of one having sold in public auction belongs to the Bass specimen, a Proof 65 piece, in November 2000. A Proof 64 Deep Cameo piece appeared in our 2003 Spring ANA auction, but did not sell.
    Breen's diagnostics of proof 1884 half eagles include a die scratch slanting up from the right base of the T in LIBERTY and a rust pit on the lower end of the upright of 1, between and above the serifs. Both are clearly present on this coin. Of course, if there were any doubt about this coin's proof status, they would be allayed by the sheer visual effect this coin possesses. It is a vivid black on bright gold in appearance, with deeply mirrored orange peel surfaces giving way to smoothly frosted devices. The strike is complete, and only a few slight marks in the fields appear to determine the Proof 65 grade. For pedigree purposes, this piece appears to have a tiny planchet flake below Liberty's hair bun. No coins of this date have yet received a higher grade with deep contrast, and only a single Proof 66 piece exceeds this Gem's numerical grade. For the serious gold collector, this is an opportunity that may not soon be repeated.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 28CM, PCGS# 98479)

    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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    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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