1863 Quarter Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo, Tied for Finest Certified of This Legendary Rarity1863 $2 1/2 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. The 1841 "Little Princess" and the 1863, both proof-only issues, are the foremost rarities in the Coronet quarter eagle series, along with the vaunted 1854-S issue. Only the 1841, the 1854-S, and the 1804 13 Stars can compare in overall rarity to the 1863 in the quarter eagle series. The 1863 quarter eagles were struck from a single pair of dies on March 23 of that year. Famed numismatist W. Elliott Woodward wrote in his catalog of the John F. McCoy Collection: "Of the quarter eagle of 1863, I have positive knowledge that only 30 pieces were struck; hence this coin is now one of the rarest of the series." Garrett and Guth (2006) estimate that 15 to 20 pieces exist today. Many examples have been polished or are otherwise impaired. To date, NGC and PCGS combined have certified a total of 19 examples, a figure that undoubtedly includes some resubmissions (9/06). This elusive rarity appears only infrequently at auction, and was absent from many of the earlier great collections. The Norweb Collection contained a PR45 example, and the Bass Collection specimen was a PR64 Deep Cameo. Among extant survivors, two coins are in the Smithsonian Institution, one from the original Mint Cabinet, and a second bequeathed as part of the Josiah K. Lilly Collection. The Garrett-Guth Gold Encyclopedia notes, "Very few United States coins have a total mintage of only 30 coins; therefore, the issue is very popular and trades for substantial sums when offered for sale." This coin is included among the 100 Greatest U.S. Coins (Garrett and Guth, 2005).
The current PR66 Ultra Cameo specimen boasts a bold, robust strike and phenomenal black-on-gold contrast between the profoundly mirrored fields and the deeply frosted devices. Each side is a consistent, attractive medium yellow-gold. There are no mentionable contact marks, but a trivial lintmark through the lower serif of the first A in AMERICA will serve as a future pedigree identifier. This coin is tied with one other NGC example at the top of the Condition Census, and it is, by two grade points, the finest Heritage has had the privilege to offer. It is a stunningly beautiful representation of one of the classic proof gold rarities--one that has long been recognized as among the most elusive and desirable in all of U.S. numismatics. Census: 2 in 66 Ultra Cameo, none finer (9/06).
From The Dr. Robert J. Loewinger Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 287H, PCGS# 97889)
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