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    1896 Half Eagle, PR66 ★ Ultra Cameo
    In-Demand Proof Gold Issue
    Ex: Trompeter

    1896 $5 PR66 ★ Ultra Cameo NGC. CAC. Ex: Trompeter. Collector demand for proof gold coins seems to have spiked in 1896 and the mintage of proof Liberty half eagles rose above 100 pieces for the first time. Virgil Brand ordered two examples of the 1896 proof half eagle in August of that year, along with one double eagle, one eagle, 10 quarter eagles, 10 silver and minor proof sets from cent to dollar, and 20 minor proof sets. Among other contemporary collectors who ordered complete gold proof sets directly from the Mint that year were John M. Clapp, Nathan M. Kaufman, William Forrester Dunham, James B. Wilson, James Ten Eyck, and David S. Wilson.

    Despite the increased demand, it is doubtful that all of the 103 proof half eagles struck in 1896 found homes, as the issue is still quite rare today. At least some of the coins must have gone unsold, to be melted after the end of the year. According to Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, probably no more than 25-30 examples survive today in all grades, including three coins in the Smithsonian Institution and another in the collection of the American Numismatic Society. Examples appear at auction infrequently, and the record price realized for the issue is still the $71,500 brought by the Pittman coin in 1997.

    The present coin shows the date placed low and to the left, with die polish at the eye and between the shield stripes. The rich mint frost of the devices contrasts dramatically with the deeply mirrored fields and the design elements are sharply detailed throughout. The bright yellow-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved and the fields display the slight orange-peel texture of the best proofs of this era. Overall eye appeal is tremendous. Census: 5 in 66 Ultra Cameo (1 in 66 Ultra Cameo), 4 finer (5/15).
    Ex: Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
    From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 56BA, PCGS# 98491)

    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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    Auction Dates
    August, 2015
    12th-16th Wednesday-Sunday
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