Coin Profile: Proof 1860 $20 Double Eagle

1860 $20 PR64 Cameo NGC. The Breen Proof Encyclopedia records something north of 30 complete gold proof sets minted for 1860, although the Mint during this period would also provide individual denominations upon request. The net production of the 1860 double eagle is reported as 59 proofs.

1860 pr 20 ha csns2011 Coin Profile: Proof 1860 $20 Double EagleThe current numismatic thinking — espoused by Akers, Breen, Garrett and Guth — is that 10 or fewer identifiable proof specimens survive today in all grades.

As Garrett and Guth put it, “In 1860, $20 was a hefty sum of money, and only a few well-heeled collectors could have saved an example.”

As a further gauge of specimens existing today, the combined NGC and PCGS population data include 12 submissions (up considerably from the eight in the Garrett-Guth first edition, and leading us to believe that many of those new pieces are duplications).

NGC enumerates one in PR64; five in PR64 Cameo; and one in PR65 Cameo, while PCGS shows one PR64; one PR63 Cameo; and two PR64 Cameo. It bears stressing  that most think those figures are inflated, due both to resubmissions and crossovers from one service to another. It is believed that there may be 10 specimens surviving, all in the Proof-63 to Proof 65 range. Three of the survivors are ensconced in the museum collections of the ANA, the ANS, and the Smithsonian, presumably off the market forever.

Heritage will be offering one of the few available proof 1860 twenties in thier Platinum Night auction later this month at the CSNS convention in Rosemont, IL.

This is the kind of coin that makes history-minded numismatists (and there are many of them) marvel, to think of all the hardships and economic challenges this coin’s owners must have endured for this piece to survive to the present in such pristine condition.

A short list of those events would, of course, start with the Civil War hostilities that broke out the following year after this piece was minted, in 1861. But many catastrophes would follow, including Reconstruction, the Panic of 1893, the Panic of 1907, two World Wars, the Great Depression, innumerable recessions and stock market booms and busts, any one of which might have been the cause for attrition of a proof double eagle, whether for profit or mere survival.

The 2860 Heritage will be selling was formerly housed in a PR63 Cameo PCGS holder and now graded Proof 64 Cameo by NGC. It displays rich, mellow orange-gold coloration throughout, with splendid eye appeal abundant throughout.

With the remarkable popularity and resultant price increases of proof gold (and gold in general) in recent years, we cannot help but believe that this piece may result in a standout performance when it crosses the auction block.

For pedigree purposes there is a curling lintmark between star 1 and the forward bust truncation; a slightly curved, short mark near the rim between stars 9 and 10; and a hair-thin, straight contact mark in the reverse field below the I in UNITED.

To be sold as Lot 5492 in the CSNS Platinum Night Sale April 28th, 2011

Auction Appearances
–PR64 Deep Cameo PCGS. Wolfson; Stack’s (10/1962), lot 872; ANA Signature (Heritage, 4/2006), lot 2294, $201,250.
–PR64 Cameo NGC. Ed Trompeter Collection (Superior, 3/1992); Heritage (2/2000), lot 6883, $71,300; Heritage (8/2004), lot 7683, PR64 Cameo PCGS, $132,250; 2006 ANA (Bowers and Merena, 8/2006), lot 4397, PR64 Cameo NGC, $189,750.
–PR64 NGC. CAC. Henry Miller Collection (Heritage, 1/2011), lot 5276, $230,000.
–PR64 Cameo NGC. Heritage (9/2004), lot 7983, PR63 Cameo PCGS, $94,875. The present specimen.
–PR64. Father Flanagan (Superior, 5/1990), lot 5737, $148,500.
–PR63 PCGS. Heritage (4/1999), lot 6259, $54,625.
–Choice Brilliant Proof. W. Foster Ely; W. Elliot Woodward (9/5/1883); Garrett Collection, Part II (Bowers and Ruddy, 3/1980), lot 789.

Museum Collections
–Proof. B. Max Mehl (12/1930), lot 614; Alto Collection (Stack’s, 12/1970), lot 418; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Core Collection, ANA.
–PR63 Deep Cameo. Smithsonian Institution.
–Proof. American Numismatic Society.
From The Slotkin Family Trust Collection.(Registry values: P7) (#89072)

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