A Proof 1869 Coronet gold $20 double eagle was the sole coin to crack
the six-figure mark at Heritage’s Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 Long Beach
Expo auction. It brought $229,125, and the total prices realized
approached $7 million.
The rare double eagle, graded Proof 65 Ultra Cameo by Numismatic
Guaranty Corp., is from a mintage of 25 pieces, of which around a
dozen are known to survive today. Of these dozen or so pieces, three
are in public collections: two in the National Numismatic Collection at the
Smithsonian Institution and another in the collection of the American Numismatic Society.
The offered piece is listed as the finest known in the roster of
examples. A different example, graded Proof 65 Cameo by NGC, set the
record for the issue when it sold at auction in Superior’s Father
Flanagan’s Boys Home Sale in May 1990 for $308,000.
Heritage wrote of the piece just sold, “We can find no previous
auction appearances for this coin and believe it has been off the
market for decades.”
Heritage notes that all 1869 Proof double eagles were originally
offered as part of six-piece Proof sets in 1869, citing Walter Breen
who stated that the six-coin Proof set cost $57 at the time, which
represented a hearty premium for coins totaling just $43.54 in face value.
“Since collecting double eagles was not popular in the 19th century,
proof twenties tended to be sold cheaply by gold proof set purchasers,
who retained the lower-denomination coins for their collections,” the
lot description adds. Some of the higher-denomination Proof coins of
this period were spent for face value due to the relatively low
premiums that they were seeing in the marketplace and one of the known
Proof 1869 Coronet double eagles is impaired.
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