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    Elusive PR66 Cameo 1858 Quarter Eagle, Finest Certified

    1858 $2 1/2 PR66 Cameo NGC. Under the aegis of Mint Director James Ross Snowden, in 1858 the U.S. Mint began publicly advertising proof coins for sale to collectors--this despite the fact that the Mint had intermittently provided specimen strikes, proof coins, (mostly) clandestine patterns, and other desiderata to well heeled and influential collectors for decades previously. The discontinuation in 1857 of the "old coppers," or large cents and half cents, led to the first mania for U.S. coins, spurred by the publication of several popular publications dedicated to coin collecting, by authors such as Eckfeldt, Dubois, and Dickeson. In 1860 Mint Director Snowden himself wrote (or was the impetus for the writing of) A Description of Ancient and Modern Coins in the Cabinet Collection at the Mint of the United States. Much like a precursor to today's Guide Book, the Snowden Mint Manual provides background information on coins and those involved in their production, as well as some pricing information. There are, however, numerous errors and omissions in the work. To cite only one example: Although the Mint likely produced restrikes of the 1836 Name in Field Gobrecht dollar (Judd-58) as early as 1857, the reference fails to mention this rare issue.
    The number of proofs minted of the 1858 quarter eagle is also unrecorded, although the website provides an estimate of 10 pieces. Walter Breen's Proof Encyclopedia comments regarding the 1858 quarter eagle, "Date high, to left, as on one variety of business strikes. Chapman claimed that only five proofs were extant. This was a very reasonable guess." This example has the lower loop of the 5 frosty rather than prooflike, and leaning slightly to the right, as on the example depicted in the Breen proof Encyclopedia. The Breen assessment regarding rarity may even be a tad on the high side, as NGC and PCGS have certified a total of four specimens between them. The present coin, certified PR66 Cameo, is the only PR66 example at either service, with none finer (10/06). The surfaces approach perfection, and the devices are heavily frosted against the unfathomable depth of reflectivity seen in the fields. The coin has an even orange-gold coloration, with the only disturbance in the color being a small alloy spot on the reverse--a feature that also conveniently serves as a pedigree identifier for this important piece of proof gold.
    From The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection.(Registry values: P7) (PCGS# 87884)

    Weight: 4.18 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    View all of [The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 15
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,302

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