1883 $20 PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. – Only 92 Examples Struck
The 1883 is the first of three proof-only Liberty Head double eagle issues, struck during a period when the demand for gold and silver coinage was at an all-time low for the second half of the 19th century. The 1883, 1884, and 1887 double eagle issues, each proof-only, were struck in reported amounts of 92, 71, and 121 pieces, respectively.
This Gem Deep Cameo proof 1883 20 dollar coin, certified by PCGS, is among the few finest survivors of the issue, regardless of contrast level. PCGS shows eight Deep Cameo submissions of the 1883 (likely including duplicates): one in PR62, two each in PR64 and PR65 (one of which is the present piece), and three PR66. NGC’s population data show three Ultra Cameo grading events for the issue, the finest of which is a single example in PR66 (11/15). Again, there is likely some overlap between these 11 Deep/Ultra Cameo certified pieces.
The second edition of Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth’s Gold Encyclopedia provides these clues:
“The 1883 double eagle was struck only in Proof format. Of the reported mintage of 92 coins, it is nearly certain that not this many were released. There are about 20 examples known in all levels of preservation, These include two examples in the Smithsonian and others placed in museum collections. The 1883 double eagle is one of the classic rarities of the series. The demand for this Proof-only issue has always been high. In recent years interest in the issue has surged…”
The authors conclude by citing a 2006 auction record of $212,750 for a PR65 Cameo NGC example, undoubtedly from Heritage’s FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2006), lot 3580.
There are no later auction offerings of PR65 Cameo examples, but with the Deep Cameo contrast of the present PCGS example, but there was a more-recent sighting in the same grade and service as this piece. Lot 5566 in the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), was a PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS example that brought a healthy $282,000 — a coin of comparable quality to the present piece.
As the old sayings goes, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics,” and nowhere else does this apply more so than in the rarefied realms of top-quality U.S. numismatic items — and proof gold in particular, the Beluga caviar of collecting.
Despite estimates of how many were struck of a given issue or exactly how many might survive today, the fact is, auction offerings of proof Liberty Head double eagles of this caliber are infrequent indeed, and there are far more collectors who desire one than the forthright bidder who will actually obtain this piece.
Perusal of this coin without a loupe reveals consistent, deep sunset-orange coloration in the highly reflective fields, producing extreme contrast with the frosted devices which were the deepest, unpolished parts of the proof die.
A loupe shows a tiny touch of hazel on the lower neck at JBL for a pedigree marker, along with a tiny glossy area on a tail feather above the D(OLLAR), apparently a small planchet flaw, as made.