At Heritage’s Jan. 29
to Feb. 1 Long Beach Expo auction, where rare double eagles brought
top prices, a rare quarter eagle also made a respectable showing.
Total prices realized approached $7 million as of Feb. 4.
A rare 1843 Coronet $2.50 quarter eagle in NGC Proof 63 Cameo sold
for $70,500. Although the Philadelphia Mint started selling Proof sets
broadly to collectors in 1858, Proofs were produced in limited
quantities in the decades before. Heritage writes, “Proof gold coins
of the pre-1858 era are especially elusive, as few numismatists could
afford to collect coins with such high face value in the mid-19th
century.” Also elusive are Mint records of Proof coin production in
the 1840s, and the description adds, “We can assume that at least five
gold proof sets were produced that year, as five examples of all the
gold denominations issued in 1843 have been reliably reported in proof format.”
Of the five sets, two remain intact. One is in the National
Numismatic Collection and the other one is in a private collection,
last appearing in public auction at the sale of Amon Carter’s
collection in 1984. A third set was assembled by John Jay Pittman.
Heritage adds that the present example is “a pleasant surprise for
collectors of early Proof gold,” being off the market and unreported.
It potentially was offered as part of B. Max Mehl’s May 1950 Golden
Jubilee Sale, although the image in that catalog is not clear enough
to provide specific identification. The coin in the B. Max Mehl sale
was described as “almost priceless” by Mehl and that description cites
another example offered in 1946 that brought $275.
Describing the offered example as “delightful,” Heritage warned, “It
may be decades, or even a lifetime, before another example of this
rare proof gold issue becomes available again.” The roster of five
known examples includes another graded Proof 63 Cameo by PCGS that was
part of the Pittman set, and two other examples in private collections.