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SERIES: Liberty Head $20 1849-1907
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1883 $20 (Proof)

PCGS #:
9099
Diameter:
34.00 millimeters
Designer:
James Barton Longacre
Weight:
33.40 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
92
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$126,500 • PR • 10-1-2001 • Sothebys/Stack's
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 24 R-9.0 12 / 31 TIE 34 / 55 TIE
60 or Better 22 R-9.0 12 / 31 TIE 33 / 55 TIE
65 or Better 5 R-9.7 9 / 31 TIE 24 / 55 TIE
Condition Census (Explain)
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 PR65 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
2 PR64 PCGS grade  
David Akers (1975/88): The 1883 is one of the most famous dates in the Liberty Head Double Eagle series. For many years, the mintage, all proofs, was thought to be only 40 pieces. Later research has shown that the figure 40 included only those proofs struck as part of complete proof sets and that another 52 individual proofs were struck as well for a total mintage of 92. The 1883 is not as rare as the 40 mintage figure would imply nor is it as common as the 92 figure would lead one to believe. Therefore, it is quite likely that some of the 92 minted were not sold and were later melted. As a proof, the 1883 is actually not as rare as any of the preceding dates except the 1881. It is also not as rare as the 1884 that follows.
P. Scott Rubin: The 1883 Proof Double Eagle is one of the rarest coins in the Liberty Head Double Eagle Series. With only twenty of the reported ninety-two struck coins known to exist today, this is a very desirable coin. No circulation issue Double Eagles were issued by the Philadelphia Mint in 1883.

The earliest auction sale of an 1883 Double Eagle of which I am aware took place in January of 1884 in W. Elliot Woodward’s 62nd Sale of the Heman Ely Collection. The coin was included as part of a complete set of Proof Gold coinage of 1883.

It appears that the appeal of a Proof-only strike of the 1883 Double Eagle may have enticed some of the collectors and coin dealers of the day to purchase a few for future sale. This is evidenced in the 1885 sales of possibly four 1883 Proof Double Eagles in two Woodward Sales of the J. Colvin Randall Collection. Each of these sales of the collector/dealer Randall’s coins each contained an 1883 Gold Proof Set and a single 1883 Proof Double Eagle. The point of interest may also be the price realized for the two single coins: the first realized $21.50 and the second realized $21.00, showing that there was no great demand for these coins soon after their issue. Some eighteen years after their issue a sale of a single 1883 Double Eagle Proof coin by Ed. Frossard in May of 1901 only realized $22.00.

It would take more collectors of the Double Eagle series and the appreciation of this coin’s true rarity to create the modern value for the 1883 Proof Double Eagle. Two different specimens of the 1883 Proof Double Eagle have sold for the record price of $282,000.00. Both coins are graded PCGS PR65 Deep Cameo by PCGS and both were sold in 2014 by Heritage Auctions: the first was in their January Platinum Night Sale as lot 5566 and the second was sold in their April Platinum Night Sale as lot 5848.