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    1857 Three Dollar Gold, PR65
    Finest of the Half-Dozen Known Specimens
    Ex: Parmelee, Woodin, Eliasberg

    1857 $3 PR65 PCGS. The 1857 proof three dollar gold piece is one of the great unheralded rarities in the U.S. gold series. Only a handful of proofs were struck to order in 1857, probably at the behest of influential collectors and government officials. The coins were distributed as individual pieces, as there is no record of complete gold proof sets being made. Experts estimate the surviving population at 6-8 examples in all grades, but our roster below can only account for six distinct specimens, and two of those citations may represent the same coin. One coin is included in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and another resides in the Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation, so there are, at most, four examples in private hands. PCGS and NGC have combined to certify a total of five examples, including an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers. Despite the extreme rarity of this issue its elusive nature is largely unappreciated outside of series specialists.

    The present coin is the finest certified example and traces its history back to pioneer gold collector George Seavey, of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. Seavey systematically ordered proofs from the Mint from the late 1850s through 1873, when he sold his collection to Lorin G. Parmelee, via coin dealer William Strobridge. Seavey's collection included all the silver and minor coins of 1857 in proof format, so it is likely that he ordered this three dollar gold piece directly from the Mint in 1857, as well. The coin passed through several famous collections in later years, including the Eliasberg Collection, possibly the most famous, and certainly the most complete, collection of United States coins ever formed.

    This delightful Gem exhibits boldly contrasted frosty devices and deeply mirrored fields, with terrific eye appeal. The design elements are sharply detailed and the vivid orange-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved, with a few highlights of lilac. A small lint mark on Liberty's chin and another above the 3 in the denomination serve as pedigree markers. Heritage Auctions has never offered an example of this proof gold rarity before and it may be years before a comparable specimen becomes available. Housed in a green label holder. Population: 1 in 65, 0 finer (2/15).

    Roster of 1857 Proof Three Dollar Gold Pieces
    1. PR65 PCGS. George Seavey; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 815; Lorin G. Parmelee; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1280; William Woodin; Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 1144; John H. Clapp; Louis Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 280; Auction '84 (Paramount, 7/1984), lot 882; Connoisseur Sale (Superior, 1/1989), lot 339; Jascha Heifetz Collection (Superior, 10/1989), lot 4243; Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1295; Dennis Mendelson Collection (Superior, 2/1991), lot 2728; Chicago Sale (Superior, 8/1991), lot 689; Century Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 2598; Dr. Jack Adams Collection (Superior, 5/1992), lot 2663; January-February Auction (Superior, 1/1993), lot 1331. The present coin.
    2. PR64 PCGS. Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 395; Auction '81 (RARCOA, 7/1981), lot 394; Dennis Mendelson Collection (Superior, 2/1991), lot 2729; Michael Keston Collection (Superior, 1/1996), Lot 44; Dr. Richard Ariagno Collection (Ira and Larry Goldberg, 5/1999), lot 698; Dr. Jon Kardatzke Collection (Goldberg, 6/2000), lot 1240; Elite Coin Auction (Superior, 8/2004), lot 969.
    3. PR64 PCGS. F.C.C Boyd; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 272; Grant Pierce & Sons Collection (Stack's, 5/1965), lot 1242; Charles Jay Collection (Stack's, 10/1967), lot 275; Theodore Ullmer Collection (Stack's, 5/1974), lot 411; Central States Numismatic Society Convention (RARCOA, 5/1977), lot 399; Auction '82 (Superior, 8/1982), lot 1368; Dr. Jerry Buss Collection (Superior, 1/1985), lot 1750; Ed Trompeter; Trompeter Collection (Superior, 2/1992), lot 99; January-February Auction (Superior, 1/1993), lot 1330.
    4. PR64 Deep Cameo. Mint Cabinet; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution. Grade per Garrett and Guth.
    5. Perfect Brilliant Proof. Jerome Kern; Golden Jubilee Sale (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 196; Samuel Wolfson Collection (Stack's, 10/1962), lot 279.
    6. Proof. Abe Kosoff; purchased privately by Harry W. Bass, Jr. on August 3, 1971; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation. This may be the same coin as number 5 above.

    Additional Appearances
    A. Proof. German Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1883), catalog not available for comparison.
    B. Proof. Heman Ely; Ely Collection (Woodward, 1/1884), lot 869.
    C. Proof. Balmanno-Shinkle Collections (Morgenthau, 4/1932), catalog not available for comparison.
    D. Proof. J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 272.
    E. Proof. A coin sold privately by B. Max Mehl circa 1944, per the Golden Jubilee catalog.
    F. Proof. George H. Hall Collection (Stack's, 5/1945), lot 1832.
    G. Proof. ANA Convention Sale (Jim Kelly, 8/1956), lot 183.
    From The New Orleans Collection.(Registry values: P7)

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 289V, PCGS# 8020)

    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 New Orleans Collection ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2015
    22nd-26th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 20
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,956

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