Any complete United States proof set from the Victorian Era is a feast for the numismatic eyes. While proof sets from this period were regular annual offerings by the United States Mint, proof coins were sold on an individual basis. Few people of the time bought complete proof sets, and even fewer of these complete sets survive intact. Among those that do, the pangs of time and mishandling usually blemish the surfaces, irreparably detracting from the coins’ eye appeal and overall beauty. Rare is the 19th-century proof set that is not just complete but also boasts superlative quality, grade, and attractiveness.
Such a treasure with no peer is presented by Tangible Investments, Inc., which is exhibiting one of the finest classic proof sets ever known with its exquisite 1880 Proof Set with Gold and augmented by two 1880 Stellas. This 16-coin assemblage of outstanding proof coins ranges from the Indian Cent to the Liberty Head Double Eagle and is inclusive of every coin in production at that time. Additionally are the elusive Coiled Hair and Flowing Hair Stellas – prototypical $4 gold coins that never went into mass production for circulation and are now extremely rare regardless of grade. They are added as optional augmentations to the 14-coin 1880 Proof Set with Gold.
While 19th-century non-gold proof-sets that include both a proof Trade Dollar and Morgan Dollar are pretty rare, finding one of these sets alongside a gold proof set of the same year is extremely rare. And finding an 1880 proof set along with both gold proof $4 Stella types of the same year is just unimaginable – unheard of. In over 140 years, to the best of our knowledge, this has never been done before, or even attempted. Making this set truly unique in its rarity while maintaining its magnificence in its quality.
In the early 1880s, U.S. coinage was undergoing a transition of sorts. The last of the odd-denomination coins were phasing out, with the three-cent nickel in its last years. The half cent had been long abandoned in 1857, the two-cent and three-cent silver coins were eliminated in 1873, and the 20-cent piece was more recently jettisoned from production in 1878. All the other coins in this set had long ago been discontinued, with the Morgan Dollar the last survivor from the standpoint of design type and having disappeared in 1921. The $1 and $3 gold denominations seen in the 1880 Proof Set with Gold were gone after 1889. All brilliant proof gold coins like those featured in this set were retired by 1907.
But there’s far more than United States Mint history on display in the 1880 Proof Set with Gold. It’s the set itself that makes headlines. It is, after all, a unique assemblage of unrivaled quality and value. It also ranks on the PCGS Set Registry as the All-Time Finest and Current Finest 1880 Proof Set with Gold. Many of the coins featured in this resplendent collection are either the single finest known or tied with the finest known, with many others ranking among the top of their class in terms of strike and overall eye appeal.
“Before the addition of the world-class Stellas, the 1880 Proof Set with Gold was rated number one by PCGS,” explained Silvano DiGenova, owner of Tangible Investments, Inc., who has been professionally trading coins for more than 40 years, and in the coin buying and selling business for more than 50 years. This 16-coin 1880 Proof Set with Gold and optionally included 1880 Stellas is the #1 current-finest in the PCGS Set Registry.
DiGenova adds: “This would be by far the most-impressive single collection that we’ve been fortunate to handle.”
DiGenova’s team is headed by Mike Bonham, executive vice president of Tangible Investments, Inc., for over 30 years. Bonham said the 1880 Proof Set with Gold is the most impressive collection he has ever had the privilege of handling.
“This collection is unique – nobody could duplicate what we have.”
The incredible set, being offered through private treaty, has an insured value of $9 million USD.
The collection, gleaming with a prestige all its own, is set to stun attendees of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) World’s Fair of Money in Pittsburgh in August and the September 2023 Long Beach Expo in Southern California, where the set will be on exhibit. DiGenova and Bonham both agree that those who make the pilgrimage to see the 1880 Proof Set with Gold at either or both events will deem the trek worthwhile.
“Everybody that has seen the proof set is in awe,” says Bonham. Certainly more than a few will feel moved to call these coins their own.
Bonham concludes: “Someone out there is going to go ‘wow’ and put the funds together.”
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