1845 $2.5 PF-67★ Cameo NGC
Christian Gobrecht, designer and engraver
Obverse: Head of Liberty facing left, her hair in an elaborate chignon with long curls trailing down her neck, wearing a coronet on which LIBERTY is emblazoned; around, thirteen stars; below, 1845.
Reverse: Displayed eagle, head facing left, with shield emblazoned on its chest holding olive branch and three arrows in its talons; around, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA; below, 2½ D.
Condition: NGC Proof 67★ Cameo (Certificate number: 1963267-001 - Photo Proof 10-07; previous Photo Proof 07-05 [number: 1727697-001] ).
A spectacular, full strike, with all details fully delineated; a tiny lint mark at the tenth star, and an insignificant (mint-caused) planchet 'dimple' between the twelfth and thirteenth stars are identifiers. A rich medium red-gold; soft deeply reflective surfaces and a few raised die polish lines accentuate the freshness of this exceptional coin.
References: This Coin Published: Breen (Encyclopedia) 6177 (2 & 3); Breen (Proofs) p. 81 (2 & 3); Garrett & Guth (Encyclopedia) p. 117 (cited as part of the Pittman set); this coin used to illustrate the date on the NGC Coin Explorer site. Other references: Akers (1975) p. 67. (PCGS 87871)
Condition Census: Probably the finest known. According to NGC this is the only example graded Proof 67 with the Cameo ★ designation. Another example graded NGC Proof 67 Ultra Cameo was sold in August 2012 as "finest known." However, the currently offered Tacasyl coin was described in the July 2005 NGC Photo Proof that accompanies the lot as, "This astounding gem is the finer of just two pieces certified by NGC." The 2012 Heritage catalogue description of the recently sold example (lot 5305) notes that although "Currently graded PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC" in its previous "past two auction appearances" in 2004 and 2006 it was graded "PR 66 Ultra Cameo NGC." PCGS records no specimens at this grade (Proof 65 Deep Cameo, the finest). (07-13)
Rarity: Exceptionally rare. Breen cited three examples (including this specimen) with a fourth rumored; Akers (1975) cited "two or three," but in his 1998 catalogue of the Pittman collection, he confirmed the existence of three and guessed at the existence of a fourth; Garrett and Guth suggest as many as five many exist, but there is no confirmation of more than three. The roster includes: the National Coin Collection; the example formerly in the Ed Trompeter Collection; and this coin, formerly the John J. Pittman example which was part of a three-piece gold proof set. Despite the recent (August, 2012) suggestion in the catalogue offering the former Trompeter example of up to four to five survivors, the empirical evidence suggests that apart from the Smithsonian example, there are only two confirmed examples. For the Half Eagle and Eagle from this set see lots 1013, 1017.
Provenance: Carl A. Minning, Jr. Collection Sale, Bowers and Merena, August 31, 1999, lot 2149, PR 65 NGC; John Jay Pittman Collection, Part Two, David Akers Numismatics, Inc., May 20-21, 1998, lot 1711 (part); "A Memorable Collection" [Jacob Shapiro/J.F. Bell], Numismatic Galleries [Abe Kosoff and Abner Kreisberg], March 1-2, 1948, lot 347 ($160); Colonel Edward Howland Robinson Green, Stack's (via private placement), circa December 31, 1943/January 10, 1944; possibly (per Breen [Proofs]) ex Burdette G. Johnson (circa 1931), Waldo G. Newcomer (circa 1911), William H. Woodin, Lorin G. Parmelee.
Note: This design, by Christian Gobrecht was first issued for the quarter eagle in 1840 and would remain essentially unchanged for nearly seventy years. There was some tinkering with the reverse lettering and minor design details begun in 1859, but the small diameter prevented the addition of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to the coin in 1866 which would have hopelessly cluttered the reverse design. Gobrecht's coronet head design may be considered the start of 'modern' United States gold coinage. The major features were completely hubbed (largely in an effort to prevent counterfeiting) and only the dates and mintmarks were punched by hand. This streamlined the production process and minimized the number of variants which the earlier issues display.
Proof coins of this early date, particularly in gold, have been called "Master coins" and were not produced for sale to the general public as in later years. Although specific documents relating to the production of the special issues are lost (or, at least have yet to be located in the National Archives) it is almost certain that they were produced exclusively for some official presentation or commemorative purpose.
- Please note, this lot with lots 1013 and 1017 comprise a complete gold proof set for the year.