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    Near-Unimprovable 1903 Half Eagle, PR67 Cameo
    Seldom Seen With Cameo Contrast

    1903 $5 PR67 Cameo NGC. In a move well-known to enthusiasts today but perplexing to the affluent collectors of the era, the Mint after 1901 changed its method of manufacturing proof gold. Where the former method involved polishing only the exposed fields of the proof dies--the highest portion--leaving the device crevices frosted, the change involved polishing the device crevices as well. This resulted in proof gold coinage in which the pleasing and desired, sometimes profound contrast between mirrored fields and frosty devices was either reduced or eliminated.
    The changed manufacturing method also means that post-1901 proof gold certified as Cameo or Deep/Ultra Cameo is considerably more elusive than the pre-1902 coins.
    Dr. Robert Loewinger's Proof Gold Coinage of the United States notes that the proofs "made during the years 1902-1907 have satiny or semibrilliant devices rather than frosty devices ... ." (The new gold designs introduced in 1907 and 1908 were not conducive to production with mentionable field-device contrast.)
    A comparison between the certified populations of the proof 1901 and 1903 half eagles is instructive, as their mintages are similar: 140 coins for the 1901 and 154 for the 1903. Between NGC and PCGS combined, 43 coins have been certified as Cameo or Ultra/Deep Cameo for the 1901 proof half eagle. The 1903 half eagle, however, has seen only 22 pieces certified as Cameo, and neither service has certified an Ultra Cameo or Deep Cameo example.
    The present Superb Gem Cameo 1903 half eagle is tied with four other such coins at NGC, with one PR68 Cameo finer; the finest at PCGS are two PR65 Cameo pieces. Among the first attributes the viewer notices on this piece, however, is the pristine overall surface preservation, with an expectedly full strike and virtually no visible contact. A tiny obverse blemish near the rim below star 13 is the only mentionable flaw. The raised devices--the recessed areas in the die--appear to have been polished but not heavily, reducing the overall contrast which is notable but not profound.
    This pristine coin is a gorgeous piece, nearly unimprovable either technically or aesthetically. It represents another important opportunity for connoisseurs of proof gold to obtain a splendid piece from this fine collection. Census: 5 in 67 Cameo, 1 finer (6/10).
    From The Jarosi Collection.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 28D9, PCGS# 88498)

    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 Jarosi Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2010
    11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
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