Gold times two: Proof 1866 Coronet gold double eagle bears gold CAC sticker

Coin being sold to help an Indiana congregation have its own church building
By , Coin World
Published : 04/14/17
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An 1866 Coronet gold $20 double eagle graded Proof 65 Cameo by Numismatic Guaranty Corp. with a rarely seen gold Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker will headline Heritage’s April 27 Platinum Night auction during the Central States Numismatic Society Convention in metropolitan Chicago. 

Off the market for more than a decade, Heritage says that it is being sold “to help an Indiana congregation fulfill its dreams of having its own church building and avoid missing a crucial financial deadline for the project,” adding, “The coin survived an attempted theft at the donor’s home four years ago, and recently was given to the GracePoint Church in Valparaiso where Pastor Bob Lamb described it as ‘an incredible gift in God’s story.’ ”

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Set in the framework of reconstruction after the Civil War, the 1866 double eagle is one of just 30 Proof pieces struck: 25 were delivered for inclusion in annual Proof sets on Jan. 15, 1866, with five more delivered on June 8 of that year. Of all these, around half exist today; Heritage identifies 10 distinct known examples, including three that are housed in museums. However, image quality in early catalog entries makes matching Proof gold coins in various sales, and reconstructing provenances, challenging. 

Heritage describes the coin’s diagnostics: “The present coin is a delightful Gem that shows all the diagnostics of a proof. The date is placed high and to the left, with the numerals slanting down to the right. The remnants of an errant 1 appear on the rim below the primary numeral, a feature seen on all proofs of this date. The broad rims are sharply squared off.”

Motto added in 1866

In 1866 Coronet double eagles underwent a design change when the motto IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the reverse, and these are called “Type Two” double eagles.

In the catalog entry Heritage links this example to Pittsburgh collector David S. Wilson who purchased Proof sets direct from the Philadelphia Mint between 1860 and 1905. Wilson’s set was split up by Texas dealer B. Max Mehl in 1946 and the subject coin was last offered in a 1993 auction by Superior Galleries where it brought $88,000. Heritage writes, “The vivid yellow-gold surfaces are impeccably preserved and show the slight orange-peel texture of the finest 19th century proofs,” before assuring bidders perhaps confused by the photo, “Housed in a prior-generation NGC holder that shows a vertical scratch in the plastic on the reverse.”

The 78th anniversary CSNS convention will be held at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center Schaumburg, Ill., April 26 to April 30, and will feature more than 300 dealers and a full slate of educational activities.

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