1903 $20 Proof 65 Cameo NGC
The tiny mintage of only 158 pieces represents the largest single proof production of the Liberty double eagle type, but when studying the certified population figures, we find that many of these have been impaired or lost over the decades. Walter Breen stated in his Proof Encyclopedia (1977) that "Aside from Garrett's at $6250 and Wolfson's, almost the only choice one auctioned in the last twenty years was that in KS 2/60; most others have been scrubbed or nicked up. Quoting the pathetic records on these would be a waste of time." In all Proof grades including Cameo examples, NGC has encapsulated 36 pieces, presumably a number of these reflect resubmissions. Only four pieces have been graded Proof 65 at NGC, all Cameo specimens. PCGS has certified only three examples as Proof 65 -- only a single Cameo, with none at a finer level at either service.
This is a remarkable Gem example with a full strike throughout including Liberty's hair, the obverse stars, and the center of the shield on the reverse. In 1903, the portrait of Liberty was lightly polished at the Mint, an attempt to eliminate cameo frosted heads as had become common to see, especially in the 1890s. While the profile certainly does not possess an Ultra Cameo contrast, the modest contrast between the deeply mirrored fields and the luminous portrait and eagle is unmistakable. Struck in deep yellow-gold with deeply mirrored fields, a single microscopic abrasion is on Liberty's vulnerable cheek. A mint-made lintmark on the reverse between UN of UNUM and the arrowhead group serves as a pedigree identifier for future identification. (PCGS 89119)