Proof Gold Coins – 1858 Proof Liberty Half Eagle – Finest of 5 known


PR67 Ultra Cameo – Finest-Known – Only Five Examples Traced

Heritage Auctions is offering an interesting collection of 30 Proof $5 Half Eagles from the Trompeter Collection. This Coin – Lot 4348  in Heritages 2015 ANA Signature Sale # 1223 should be the highlight of this selection of coins as evidenced by the catalog description below. Ed Trompeter of Thousand Oaks, Ca  quietly assembled what many consider the world’s finest collection of United States proof gold coins.

1858 $5 PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. Ex: Trompeter. The Philadelphia Mint offered proof coins on a widespread commercial basis for the first time in 1858 and the numismatic community reacted with great enthusiasm. Mintages were not recorded for the various proof issues, but we know they were quite small, especially for the more expensive gold coins. Only five examples of the 1858 proof Liberty half eagle are known to numismatists today and two of those coins are included in institutional collections at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Numismatic Society. Heritage Auctions is pleased to present the finest-certified example of this classic rarity in just its third auction appearance in 157 years.

This coin has been a highlight of some of the most famous U.S. gold collections of all time. It traces its history to Ed Trompeter’s fabulous collection of proof gold, and to the world renowned Eliasberg collection before that. The first auction appearance of this piece we can trace with any certainty was in lot 224 of the James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922):

“1858 Yellow gold. Perfect brilliant proof. extremely rare and valuable.”

1858_pr_5_Tromp_rev_smThe lot realized $35, a very strong price at the time. Today, examples bring many multiples of this price at their infrequent auction appearances. The record price realized for the issue is $195,500, brought by the PR66 Ultra Cameo specimen in lot 1892 of the Palm Beach Signature (Heritage, 3/2006).

This magnificent Superb Gem is the finest-known example of this landmark proof issue, with razor-sharp definition on all design elements and deeply mirrored fields that contrast profoundly with the frosty devices. The bright yellow-gold surfaces are free of post-strike distractions and show the slight orange-peel texture of the best 19th century proofs. A small mintmade planchet flaw in the upper-right reverse field serves as a pedigree marker. This coin should find a home in the finest collection or Registry Set of proof gold. Census: 1 in 67 Ultra Cameo, 0 finer (4/15).

Roster of 1858 Proof Half Eagles
1. PR67 Ultra Cameo NGC. James Ten Eyck Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1922), lot 224; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack’s; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 488; Ed Trompeter; Heritage Auctions,circa 1998; private collection. The present coin.
2. PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Donald H. Hopkins; March Sale (Stack’s, 3/1985), lot 807; Harry W. Bass, Jr.; Bass Collection, Part IV (Bowers and Merena, 11/2000), lot 469; Exclusively Internet Auction (Heritage, 12/2003), lot 14326; Continuous Internet Auction (Heritage, 8/2005), lot 24472; Continuous Internet Auction (Heritage, 12/2005), lot 24520; Palm Beach Signature (Heritage, 3/2006), lot 1892, realized $195,500; Baltimore Auction (Stack’s Bowers, 3/2014), lot 4085, realized $170,375.
3. PR64 Cameo NGC. George Seavey, part of a complete proof set of the date, including minor, silver, and gold coins, probably purchased directly from the Mint in 1858; Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 820, not sold as Seavey’s entire collection was purchased by the following before the sale took place; Lorin G. Parmelee; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1292 (also included in the lot were the proof eagle and quarter eagle from Seavey’s set); William H. Woodin, exhibited at the 1914 ANS Exhibition; Waldo Newcomer; F.C.C. Boyd; World’s Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 412; Jacob Shapiro (aka J.F. Bell); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 359; King Farouk; Palace Collections of Egypt (Sotheby’s, 2/1954), lot 253; Gaston DiBello, per his annotated copy of the Farouk sale; Theodore Ullmer Collection (Stack’s, 5/1974), lot 446; Macotta Metals, exhibited at the 1976 ANA convention; ANA Convention Auction (New England Rare Coin Auctions, 7/1979), lot 176; Dr. Nelsen Page Aspen Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1989), lot 551; Auction ’90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1323.
4. PR64 Deep Cameo, per Garrett and Guth. Mint Cabinet in 1858, National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
5. Proof. Robert C.H. Brock; J.P. Morgan; American Numismatic Society in 1908. Note: this coin has been attributed to John Colvin Randall and George Cogan’s sale of 3/1882 by several catalogers, but there was no proof 1858 half eagle or gold proof set in that sale.

Additional Appearances
A. Proof. Coin Auction Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1860), lot 712, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set, possibly the same as number 1 or 2 above.
B. Proof. George Seavey Collection (William Strobridge, 9/1863), lot 479, part of a complete six-piece gold proof set. This seems likely to be a second set owned by Seavey, possibly purchased at Woodward’s sale in A above, or from the Mint, as a duplicate, and disposed of in this sale. In that case, this may be an early appearance of the coin in number 1 or 2 above. It is also possible that Seavey only owned one set, which was offered but did not sell at this 1863 sale. In that case Seavey would have retained it until he sold his collection in 1873 and it would be an earlier appearance of the coin in number 3.
C. Proof. William H. Woodin Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 10/1904), lot 22.
Ex: Ed Trompeter Collection; Heritage Auctions, circa 1998; private collection.
From The Ed Trompeter Collection of Proof $5 Liberties.(Registry values: P1) (PCGS# 98448)

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