October Baltimore Rarities Night – Phenomenal Proof 1891 Double Eagle Rarity

by Jeff Ambio, Vice President of Numismatics, Stack’s Bowers Galleries….

This is a simply exquisite Gem that really needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. It is fully struck with razor-sharp detail to even the most intricate design elements, while the devices are enhanced by mint frost. The fields, on the other hand, are very reflective, with the contrast between them and the devices clearly upholding the Ultra Cameo designation from NGC. Extremely smooth and nearly pristine, this is an outstanding example of a famous Liberty Head double eagle rarity.

The Philadelphia Mint produced only 52 Proof double eagles in 1891 using a single pair of dies that have recently become known as JD-1 (United States Proof Coins, Volume IV: Gold, by John W. Dannreuther, 2018). As with all Proof Liberty Head double eagles, the 1891 is a major numismatic rarity at all levels of preservation. Dannreuther estimates that only 18 to 22 coins are extant, a bit higher number than those of contemporary Proof double eagle issues with similar mintages. The reason for this, in Dannreuther’s words:

“The 1,390 mintage of the circulation strikes [from the Philadelphia Mint that year] makes date pressure the primary reason that more 1891 Proofs have survived than for 1890 that had an almost identical production. This is a common theme for all United States issues with low circulation strike outputs. Collectors would not spend a Proof issue if they knew that other collectors would pay a premium for their coins or they could not easily replace their Proof with a commercial strike.”

Now as then, the low mintage and key date status of the circulation strike 1891 double eagle keeps demand for Proofs high among gold enthusiasts. Of course, the Proof 1891 is a rarity in its own right with examples seldom appearing on the market. Indeed, this is one of the few examples that have passed through your cataloger’s hands in quite some time. One of our more recent offerings was for an impaired specimen in NGC Proof-58 Cameo. This Condition Census premium Gem is beyond doubt a highlight of the present sale that is sure to see spirited competition among advanced collectors.

PCGS# 99107. NGC ID: 26EC.

NGC Census: 1; 3 finer in this category (Proof-68 * Ultra Cameo finest). The highest graded examples of this issue graded by PCGS are at the Proof-66 Deep Cameo level.

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