PROOF SET - PROOF GOLD COINS
Proof 1879 Gold Dollar
- Proof 1889 Quarter Eagle - Proof 1879 Three Dollar - Proof
1887 Double Eagle
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.