VERY RARE AND POSSIBLY FINEST KNOWN PROOF 1884 HALF EAGLE
1884 $5.00 PCGS PR65DCAM, ex Garrett Collection
The 1884 has the second lowest mintage for any Proof half eagle struck after 1882, trailing only the 1889 (with 45 struck). There were a total of 48 struck in 1884 but the survival rate is low and published estimates of “20” or more known seem incorrect; especially when one considers that only three Proof 1884 half eagles have appeared at auction since 2000.
This is the finest 1884 half eagle that I have ever seen and I feel strongly that it is the finest known. The only other Gem known is a piece which appears in the PCGS population but which has never sold at auction; it may be the NGC PR65UCAM which sold a few years ago (see below).
The eye appeal of this piece is simply astounding with a deep black and white appearance the result of strong contrast between the watery, hairline-free fields and the heavily frosted devices. One small mark in the left obverse field is likely all that keeps this coin from a 66 grade and a much higher price tag.
This coin is tied with one other coin at PCGS for highest graded with a DCAM designation. My guess is that the other coin is ex Heritage 3/08: 1512 (at $54,625) which was then in an NGC holder but which now may have been “crossed” to PCGS.
Here is a truly superb coin with a wonderful pedigree and one which is considerably rarer than most collectors realize.
CAC has approved one in this grade with none finer.
Ex: Purchased directly from the U.S. Mint as part of a six piece gold proof set by T. Harrison Garrett on 2/7/1884; Robert Garrett, John Work Garrett, Johns Hopkins University, Garrett Collection: 484 (Stack’s 3/1976), Paramount Auction ’79: 319, Ed Trompeter collection, Heritage Auctions ca. 1998, private collection, Heritage 2015 ANA: 4375 (as NGC PR65 Ultra Cameo) where it sold for $49,350.