Spectacular 1900 Half Eagle, PR68 Deep Cameo1900 $5 PR68 Deep Cameo PCGS. The proof half eagle issue of 1900 presents a numismatic paradox. Often, numismatists and dealers will point to it as an ideal issue for the interested type collector. Still, it proves elusive, and while it has an abnormally high (by proof gold standards) mintage of 230 specimens, the heightened mintage has had little impact on present-day availability. Garrett and Guth (2006) note: "The date is not much more common than most of the issues of this time period. Many 1900 half eagles must have been destroyed as unsold." Such a fate likely befell the other proof gold issues for the year, which were struck in similarly heightened qualities, though not to the same extent as the five dollar gold coins.
As a 19th century issue, the 1900 five dollar gold proofs are known to come with significant contrast, though such coins comprise fewer than one-quarter of the specimens in the PCGS Population Report. Four examples have been awarded a Cameo designation by PCGS and nine were granted Deep Cameo status. When the two classes are considered together and the two major certified populations combined, the 1900 is the most available proof half eagle issue with significant contrast. As with all other classic-era American proof gold, however, obtaining any example, much less one with substantial eye appeal, poses a significant challenge.
Further analysis of the certification data compiled by PCGS produces some surprising revelations. In the Population Report, this is the lone PR68 exemplar with any contrast modifier for the year. Examining the series overview also shows that across the entire Liberty half eagle proof series, this is the only PR68 piece ever graded by PCGS (11/07), and the coin's Deep Cameo status only heightens its desirability. While three examples in PR68 appear in the NGC Census Report, two with the Cameo designation and one noted as Ultra Cameo, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of this PCGS-graded specimen to proof gold collectors, and Registry enthusiasts in particular. Its singular status would make it a crown jewel of even the finest cabinet.
Representatives with the highest degree of contrast appear only rarely in the numismatic marketplace; Heritage has only offered one such piece at auction before, a PR64 Ultra Cameo exemplar in the November 2007 Houston sale. The infrequent nature of such appearances makes this breathtaking specimen all the more important. As one might surmise from the grade, the surfaces are virtually perfect, with magnification necessary to identify any post-striking flaws. Both sides offer exquisite black-and-gold contrast between the richly frosted, decisively struck devices and the glassy, immensely reflective fields. While the yellow-gold surfaces show few points that could serve as identifying markers, two tiny planchet flaws near the periphery, one to the right of the D in UNITED and the other above the second S in STATES, could serve as such. Neither has any impact on this specimen's incredible visual appeal, and the interested collector should view this coin in person. Its stellar beauty transcends even the best photography and description, and only up-close examination does the piece justice.
Few coins offer the combination of beauty, condition rarity, and history that distinguishes this amazing representative. Whether one is assembling a comprehensive set of proof Liberty half eagles or pursuing the ultimate example for a type collection, the sale of this outstanding specimen creates a magnificent opportunity that may not be repeated for years. The discerning collector should bid accordingly.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28D6, PCGS# 98495)
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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