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Proof 1879 Gold Dollar - Proof 1889 Quarter Eagle - Proof 1879 Three Dollar - Proof 1887 Double Eagle

A proof coin is a special early sample of an issue. Originally proofs were made to check the dies and to have a sample or two for inspection and the archives. They were also used as presentation pieces for dignitaries. Proofs were meant to be perfect in every way. Specially prepared dies using polished blanks are used in a higher capacity press to make sure that every detail is apparent. Often more than one strike is required. Modern proofs are struck in great numbers for sale to the collector market.

In the early years, proof gold coins were usually sold in year sets with one piece representing each denomination. However, historical mintages vary and indicate that individual coins were also sold. Although the price of a gold proof coin was only a little more than the face value of the coin, the high cost of the coin itself combined with the premium prevented most collectors from purchasing them. When the economy became weak, many people sold their accumulations or collections or spent them at face value. Proof gold as well as business strikes thus entered circulation. Clearly collectors were unaware that early proof gold coins would become present day rarities.

Proof coins have many different finishes. Prior to 1828, proof coins often have a semi-reflective luster and are often struck without full details. The “close” collar, introduced in 1828, made for exact diameters and good details. Proof coins began to have sharper rims, more reflectivity including mirrored surfaces, and sometimes frosted devices. The twentieth century saw more experimentation with proof finishes. Brilliant finishes with little or no cameo contrast was used. In 1907 these finishes were supplanted by satiny, sandblast, matte surfaces. These finishes were sometime controversial. For example, some 1907 Saint-Gaudens’ double eagles have a proof finish according to NGC. However, PCGS does not recognize any proofs for this issue.

The present set is a denomination, proof gold set. It includes an Indian Princess, Large Head gold dollar, minted from 1856 to 1889; a Liberty Head quarter eagle, minted from 1840 to 1907; a three-dollar Indian Princess gold piece, minted from 1854 to 1889; and a Liberty Head double eagle, minted from 1850 to 1907.

All of the pieces in this set of gold proofs are special coins because they have low mintage and are enormously rare. The 1879 gold dollar had an original mintage of 30 pieces. Only 15 or 20 are known today in all grades. The 1889 quarter eagle had an original mintage of 48. Approximately 35 are known today. Like the gold dollar, the 1879 three-dollar gold piece had an original mintage of 30. Approximately 20 are known today. The 1887 double eagle had an original mintage of 121 pieces, but only 25 or 30 are known today in all grades. Of course these numbers do not tell the entire story because they do not account for the grades of each individual coin in the set.

The gold dollar is graded PR64CAM by PCGS. In its population report, PCGS shows 5 in PF64CAM with 1 better. The quarter eagle is the only piece for this date graded PF64+ by NGC. The three-dollar gold piece is graded PF65CAM by NGC. It is tied for the finest known with 4 others. The double eagle is graded PR62CAM by PCGS. It is the finest known at PCGS. The four coins of this set are exceedingly rare in absolute as well as relative terms.

Of course none of these numbers really tells the whole story. This set is aesthetically beautiful. All of the coins, which have been carefully selected, are fully struck and show excellent mint luster. Three are cameo proof coins. They have devices that sharply contrast with their fields. The quarter eagle, which is not designated a cameo, nonetheless, has devices that stand out against the field, especially on the obverse. It also has the “plus” designation indicating that in NGC’s opinion, the coin is at the top of the grade range. All four coins have original surfaces that show few contact marks and hairlines. Three of the four have CAC stickers, indicating that they full deserve the grade assigned. Clearly the three-dollar gold piece is in the same category. This set of historic proof gold coins is an excellent choice for the cabinet of a true numismatic connoisseur.

Proof 1879 Gold Dollar

Proof 1889 Quarter Eagle

Proof 1879 Three Dollar Gold

Proof 1876 Gold Eagle

Proof 1887 Double Eagle



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