On September 25, 2022, GreatCollections offered collectors a rare opportunity to bid on a spectacular early US Civil War Ultra Cameo Proof 1864 gold double eagle. Graded and certified by NGC as PF 65 UCAM, this highly desirable coin garnered considerable attention, registering 71 bids on its way to a final price of $613,125 USD with buyer’s premium.
Most US Civil War gold coins are rare, and this stunning Proof 1864 double eagle is no different. Compounding a below-average mintage, it is believed that only a small portion of the original issuance of 50 coins survives to this day. Of the 12 to 15 examples known, PCGS has certified two (both as PR 64) and NGC has certified 10 (one PF 63, six PF 64, and three PF 65). These figures also includes one example held by the Smithsonian and one specimen held by the American Numismatic Society (ANS), further reducing the total population available to private collectors to between nine and 12 examples.
Originally sold by the United States Mint as part of a six-piece gold Proof Set, this Ultra Cameo Proof coin was expected to hammer for more than $500,000.
This particular coin, last sold at public auction in 2018, is also the most recent example to hit the public auction block. It has a comparatively short provenance, dating back only to 1965 when it was sold by Abner Kreisberg and Hans M.F. Schulman with an estimate of $3,750. The coin was sold again by Kreisberg and Schulman in 1966. Heritage Auctions subsequently sold this particular coin in 2007 for $184,000 and again in 2018 for $240,000.
There are no truly distracting marks, and the yellow gold surfaces highlight the orange-peel-textured frosted devices nicely. Additionally, the design displays no weak spots, and all the star centers are quite bold. There are very few negative marks that can be possibly held against this coin. Firstly, there are two small copper alloy spots on the reverse: one on the rim below D in the denomination and the other to the left of the rays. Secondly, there are a few marks caused by die rust on the obverse near Liberty’s eye, brow, and below the LIBERTY on her coronet.
The obverse of this early double eagle depicts the left-facing head of Lady Liberty. This Greco-Roman revival bust of Liberty is shown with her hair shaped into a bun with several strands draped down the back of her neck. Liberty wears a simple coronet engraved with the word LIBERTY. She is ringed by 13 six-pointed stars representing the original 13 states. Below is the striking date, 1864.
This particular coin has the Type 1 heraldic reverse design. The eagle, with outstretched wings, clutches an olive branch and bundle of arrows in its claws. In front of its breast is a shield that the eagle is protecting representing the USA. United States Mint Chief Engraver James B. Longacre intended that this design would be a variation of the Great Seal of the United States. In an allusion to the coin’s double denomination, the eagle is holding an ornate double-ended ribbon in its beak. This ribbon bears the motto “E Pluribus Unum”. Above the eagle’s head are 13 stars in a circular halo superimposed over an arc of radiating sunbeams. The central design is ringed with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination TWENTY D. Since this particular coin was struck at the Philadelphia Mint, there is no mintmark.
The edge of the 1864 double eagle is reeded.
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