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    1864 Three Dollar Gold, PR64+ Cameo
    Rare Gold Proof Issue
    Tied for Finest at PCGS, Ex: Friend

    1864 $3 PR64+ Cameo PCGS. CAC. JD-1, High R.6. Ex: Friend. The 1864 three dollar gold piece is an elusive issue as a date. According to Mint records, only 2,630 regular-issue examples were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, accompanied by 50 proofs. No coins were produced at the branch mints and few high-quality business strikes were saved for numismatic purposes. Although the proof mintage was more than adequate to satisfy collector demand, which was quite small at the time, the rarity of high-grade business-strikes put intense pressure on the small supply of proofs as the hobby expanded in later years.

    There were many reasons for the decreased demand for proofs in 1864. The economic and political uncertainties of the Civil War caused widespread hoarding of all precious metal coinage, which was seldom seen in circulation during the war years. As a result, the U.S. government suspended specie payments late in 1861, and did not resume them until 1879. This policy prevented the Mint from accepting the government's own paper money at par in exchange for gold. Two options were open to collectors who wished to acquire gold proof sets during this era, neither of them very attractive. They could choose to pay in greenbacks at an exorbitant premium, or they could pay in gold, which usually meant dealing with a bullion broker to acquire the necessary gold coins, also at a substantial premium.

    The proofing charge (first instituted in 1860), and postage, etc., continued to apply, as well. The complicated and expensive ordering process discouraged all but the most committed collectors at a time when most people had more serious demands on their personal finances. It is doubtful that all 50 gold proof sets produced in 1864 were actually distributed, as the normal mintage in surrounding years was on the order of 25-35 sets, and there is no reason to believe more than that number were sold in 1864. The unsold remainder was probably melted after the end of the year. PCGS CoinFacts estimates the surviving population at 25-35 examples in all grades, as the survival rate seems to have been higher for the three dollar coins than for the other denominations of the year. Frequency of auction appearances indicates the issue may be scarcer than population data suggests, however, and Q. David Bowers estimates only 11-14 proofs are extant. John Dannreuther offers an estimate of 14 to 16 coins.

    The present example shows the diagnostic date placement, slightly left of the position on business strikes, and an unintended area of die polish on the neck, near Liberty's hair. The vivid orange-gold surfaces show just a touch of the orange-peel texture evident on the best proofs of this era. The design elements are sharply detailed, with diagnostic doubling on the ribbon bow. The frosty devices contrast boldly with the deeply mirrored fields and the well-preserved surfaces show only a few minor signs of contact. Population: 2 in 64 (2 in 64+) Cameo, 0 finer. CAC: 2 in 64, 0 finer (3/19).
    Ex: Dale Friend Collection of 1864 Proof Coinage / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2017), lot 5833, which realized $56,400.
    From The Chinook Collection. (Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 28A4, PCGS# 88027)

    Weight: 5.02 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

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

    View all of [The Chinook Collection ]

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    Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel
    1551 North Thoreau Drive
    Schaumburg, IL 60173

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