Proof 1886 $3 (1886 Three Dollars Gold), Indian Princess, PCGS PF62 Cameo CAC. A super sharp strike and cameo effect contribute to the eye appeal of this Proof 1886 Three Dollar. The frosted devices contrast to the darker mirrored fields creating the cameo appearance. Proof coins are struck at least twice to bring up the details of the design as is the case with this coin. For the grade, the surfaces are clean and free of distracting marks worthy of individual mention. The CAC sticker indicates that the coin is not only properly graded but is also premium quality for the grade. The coin was originally part of the Stecher Collection, which was sold in Charlotte, NC in 2007 where it was describe as follows: “1886 $3 PR63 Cameo PCGS. Frosty devices and glittering fields ensure the proof status of this desirable three dollar gold piece. The strike is needle-sharp, even on the wreath bow, the veins of the cotton leaves, and the highpoints of Liberty's tresses.” Karl Stecher, Sr. purchased this piece for $12.00 as lot 11645 in a circa-1940 Barney Bluestone auction. The coin comes with the original Stecher insert showing its provenance.
In 1851 a law was passed that authorized a three cent piece and also made the postage rate three cents. Two years later a new law was passed authorizing a light weight silver three cent coin and three dollar gold coin. Evidently lawmakers believed that the gold coin would be useful to buy rolls of three cent coins and sheets of stamps. Its closeness to the quarter eagle, which was widely used, made the denomination somewhat illogical, and the public proved indifferent to them.
James Longacre designed the three dollar gold coin using an Indian Princess motif. He had to create a motif that would be distinctly different from the quarter and half eagle coronet designs. The design, similar to his Gold Dollar Large Head, shows a head of Liberty facing left wearing a stylized headdress. Inscribed on the headband is LIBERTY. She is surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. In using the Indian Princess motif, Longacre felt that he was designing something that was uniquely American rather than an adoption from the classics. The reverse shows an open wreath of corn, cotton, wheat, and tobacco tied at the bottom with a bow. The denomination 3 appears at the top center of the wreath, with DOLLARS and the date below within the wreath. Longacre liked the wreath design so much that he adopted it for use on the small cent of 1856.
The 1886 Proof three-dollar coin has a tiny, original mintage of only 142 proof gold coins, which means it is rare in all grades. It is estimated that 75 to 90 exit today however in its population report, PCGS shows only 2 coins in Proof 62 Cameo including this coin and 16 higher, not taking into account duplicate or multiple submissions. CAC shows only this coin with 5 higher. United States proof gold coins are considered blue chip coins and can be a good investment over time. With more collectors and investors naturally gravitating toward proof gold, the future looks bright indeed.
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