Outstanding 1897 Half Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo1897 $5 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. In his landmark 1979 book on half eagles, David Akers offered the following commentary about the special strikings of 1897: "Proofs are rare." The assessment is minimalist but factual; earlier estimates of up to 40 survivors have given way to lower numbers, with Garrett and Guth (2006) indirectly naming a range of 20 to 30 pieces for the issue. Assuming resubmissions, the combined census for NGC and PCGS, 41 pieces across all grades and states of contrast, is consistent with the upper end of the Garrett and Guth estimate. Later issues have larger surviving populations; the 1898 proof issue has a combined census record of 70 pieces, despite a mintage of just 75 pieces, or eight fewer than the 1897 edition.
Of the known 1897 proof half eagles, many have some level of cameo effect. In NGC's Census, for example, out of 26 piece, 20 were assessed as Cameo and five as Ultra Cameo, with just one given neither status. The prized Ultra Cameo pieces, however, still make up a minority of the pieces certified. The delightful specimen offered here is a high-caliber coin worthy of the finest collection. The richly frosted devices show exquisite detail, and the carefully preserved honey-gold fields have mirrors with amazing depth. Both sides offer a powerful level of contrast that fully justifies the Ultra Cameo designation. The slightest bit of haze at the obverse margins lends the piece a further air of originality. With its incredible eye appeal and wonderful condition, this half eagle ranks as one of the most desirable examples of its kind. Census: 3 in 66 Ultra Cameo, 1 finer (6/07).(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 28D3, PCGS# 98492)
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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