By CoinWeek …..
On Sunday, June 27, bidding ends at GreatCollections.com in a landmark auction for an important U.S. gold rarity. The auction listing is the company’s one millionth; the coin is an 1864 gold eagle Proof, graded PF 65 Ultra Cameo by NGC and CAC approved.
In total, 50 Proof coins were struck for the denomination in 1864, the fourth year that the country was engaged in a violent and costly civil war. All Proofs from this date are scarce, but gold issues are especially so due to the high value of the denomination and the scarcity of hard money at a time of extreme borrowing on the part of the federal government as it prosecuted a war against the eleven states in rebellion.
This 1864 gold eagle is one of hundreds of CAC-approved coins offered at GreatCollection’s weekly online auctions.
To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.
Background of the Liberty Head Eagle
The Liberty Head eagle was a $10 gold coin issued from 1838 to 1907. It was the first $10 gold coin struck for circulation since President Thomas Jefferson suspended production of the large gold coin in 1804. Jefferson’s concern that the bulk of the United States Mint’s gold coin emissions ended up in overseas coffers drove his decision. The decision to reintroduce the denomination came after the United States reported several years of net gold surplusses and after the discovery of gold in Georgia and the Carolinas.
The Liberty Head eagle was smaller than the “Big Tens” that proceeded it. Per authorizing legislation, the weight and diameter of the denomination were reduced from 17.5 grams to 16.718 grams and from 33mm to 27mm. The coins were designed by Christian Gobrecht, two years before he was appointed to the position of Chief Engraver. Gobrecht based his depiction of Liberty on Benjamin West’s painting Omnia Vincit Amor (1809).
The obverse features a bust portrait of Liberty facing left. The date appears below the bust truncation, centered. Thirteen stars wrap around the design. LIBERTY is written in a crown that rests on Liberty’s hair. Liberty’s long hair is styled into a bun. On the reverse, a bald eagle is depicted. Its chest shielded by a Federal Shield. In its right talon are three arrows; in its left, an oak leaf. Coins struck in 1864 bear the legend above and the denomination, written TEN D. at the bottom. In a few years, a scroll with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST would be added to reflect the religious sentiment of the time.
A total of 50 Gold Proof Sets were struck for the 1864. Sets consisted of five coins: a Gold Dollar, a Gold Quarter Eagle, a Gold Three Dollar Coin, a Gold Half Eagle, and a Gold Double Eagle. The $41.50 face value of the coins represented a significant cost. Add to that the proofing charge and the cost for the five-coin set came out to $43.52 in 1864 dollars or $731.52 in today’s dollars. Only the richest collectors could afford to buy the sets from the Mint.
But that initial investment paid off handsomely over the years as the size of the collecting market grew and the true scarcity of the issue was realized. Contemporary estimates suggest that between 15 and 25 survive. David Akers believed the number to be 12 when he was compiling his research into American gold coinage in the mid-1970s. John Dannreuther, in his landmark United States Proof Coins: Volume IV: Gold, Part Two, published in 2018, puts the number of survivors at 14-16.
The present example is graded PF 65 Ultra Cameo, ranking it near the top of the condition census. This exact coin is not directly referenced in the Dannreuther book. It is possible that he had not reviewed it before compiling his condition census.
Current bid (as of the time of publication of this article) is $195,388 with 16 bids. Bidding ends Sunday at 7:24 PM Pacific Time. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out this important offering.