Dallas, Texas: “In my experience, proof coinage from 1896 and 1898 is consistently of the highest quality and aesthetic appeal of any 19th-century U.S. coinage,” said Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auction Galleries.
“One explanation for the high quality seen on many 1896 proof dollars,” Rohan said, “is that two obverse dies were used to produce the 762 proofs struck. Assuming that the first few dozen coins struck from a fresh pair of dies would be cameos, the fact that two dies were used should double the number of cameo coins produced. And that appears to be just what happened in 1896, even though other dates – the 1895, for instance – had two or more dies used to strike proof dollars. One can then surmise that Q. David Bowers’ statement ‘Proofs of this and the next two years show that the Mint could turn out exceptional products if it wanted to,’ is not only true, but it also points to a conscious desire on the part of Mint employees to turn out a superior product.”
“With the reputation 1896 has for attractive proof coinage, at the PR69 level, this particular coin, the 1896 $1 PR69 Star Ultra Cameo NGC, represents the best of the best,” Rohan said. “The surfaces are suggestive of Ultra Cameo proofs that the Mint produced beginning in the 1980s. It is truly remarkable that such a coin predates those coins by some 80 years. The fields are extraordinarily deep in their mirrored reflectivity. This, of course, is in part from the sharply contrasting frost on the devices, but it is also simply because the fields on the dies were so heavily polished prior to striking and the planchet heavily polished also. The devices are heavily frosted and balanced in appearance from side-to-side. This combination of thick mint frost and deep mirrors gives the coin its Ultra Cameo status. The surfaces appear perfect to the unaided eye. However, perfection would be unrealistic for a coin that was struck 110 years ago. Magnification reveals very light hairlines (definitely not from cleaning) on the cheek of Liberty. Again, magnification is required, and these ‘imperfections’do not impair the overall appearance or eye appeal of this stunning proof dollar.”
“This coin represents outstanding quality in a proof Morgan,” Rohan concluded, “and a coin that is sure to be of great interest to both Morgan specialists and collectors of 19th century proof type.”
Heritage Auction Galleries offered the 1896 $1 PR69 Star Ultra Cameo NGC in their upcoming Signature Auction, held April 7-9, 2006 as the official auctioneer of the American Numismatics Association’s 2006 National Money Show, at the Cobb Galleria Centre, Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia 30339.
1896 $1 PR69 Star Ultra Cameo NGC Images, descriptions, and prices realized from all of Heritage’s previous auctions are available in the Permanent Auction Archives at the Heritage website.
To reserve your copy of a catalog for any upcoming Heritage auction, please contact Nicole Jewell, c/o Heritage Auction Galleries, 3500 Maple Avenue, 17th Floor, Dallas, TX 75219, or call 1-800-872-6467, ext. 272.