1860 $3, CA PR (PCGS# 88023)

2011 February Long Beach Signature US Coin Auction #1152

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    Heritage Auctions
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Lot Description
1860 $3 PR66 Cameo NGC. The PR66 grade is an extremely high level for any proof three dollar. With the added Cameo designation and as a pre-Civil War proof issue from close to the series' inception, this piece is far and away finer--and rarer--than most specimens encountered. While the mintage for proofs is reported to be 119 coins, it is likely that most were melted as unsold. Bowers estimates that only 10 to 12 proofs survive today. In the year that Lincoln was elected president, South Carolina seceded from the Union, and the nation's financial difficulties were so severe that the Treasury even lacked funds to pay Congress, most U.S. citizens had other worries than obtaining a proof three dollar gold piece. A token quantity of 7,036 business strikes for the year was produced, after which the die was resurfaced and reused for the proofs, a fact first noted by gold researcher Harry W. Bass, Jr. According to the Bowers series reference, the "relapping caused a further reduction of the J.B.L. initials and resulted in inconsistent spacing of the dentils on the obverse in certain areas." Bowers also notes a small patch of die rust on Liberty's jaw. Some of those characteristics are visible on this coin as well as some that Breen cites in his Proof Encyclopedia, including a "minute spine down from jaw" and "partial slight extra outlines at r. ribbon and parts of r. wreath." The present PR66 Cameo example is one of only four so graded at NGC, and there are none finer (1/11). The desired gold-on-black appearance is quite evident on this piece, due to the depth of contrast between the fields and devices. Even, consistent yellow-gold color prevails throughout. The surfaces are all but free of mentionable marks, but for provenance purposes we mention a tiny planchet indent in the left obverse field, directly before Liberty's nose. This rare antebellum three dollar in excellent shape should prove to be a prize for proof gold specialists and series fans.
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