Goldberg Coins and Collectibles

Sale 91

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Lot 1446

1869 $5 Liberty NGC Proof 65. NGC graded Proof 65 Star Cameo. A wonderful coin with lovely light golden toning and fantastic eye appeal. The devices are bold throughout with glittering Cameo frost imparted by the dies while the mirror fields show the high degree of reflectivity one expects in an outstaning gem coin. However, this isn't just any typical gem proof half eagle, this is an 1869. Only 25 minted, and while CoinFacts estimates the number known today at 20 this seems quite generous as PCGS records only 7 examples in all grades, five as regular Proof examples from PR-55 to PR-64, and two more with the Cameo designation, one as PR-64 and this coin as PR-65, the only gem seen by PCGS. The present offering is one of two seen by NGC at this grade level, but none are finer. It is notworthy that the other PR-64 PCGS Cameo example, while no doubt exceptional in its own right, does have a rather prodigious lintmark on the reverse, perhaps a strike through, which can be viewed on the CoinFacts website.

1869 was such an important year in history, one important fact on gold coins of this year involves President Grant. One of Grant's shirt tail relations (Grant's brother-in-law Abel Corbin) decided it would be useful to corner the gold market, and in the process make a whole lot of money. Corbin earned time with Grant and told him to withhold all the United States gold reserves and keep them off the market, then with this inside information Corbin and his co-conspirators (James Fisk and Jay Gould) bought up all the available gold on the market. Little was to be had as the monetary disruptions from the Civil War continued and most of the gold coinage remained in hoards. This drove up the premium of gold coins relative to the greenback dollars in circulation. Gold soon carried a 30% premium at market as to when Grant took office a few years before. The demand for gold forced the price to rise rapidly as others jumped on the bandwagon to easy profits. Meanwhile, President Grant learned of the scheme he had inadvertantly allowed, and pulled the plug by selling tons of Treasury gold into the market, roughly $4 million dollars worth. The premium of gold to greenbacks plummeted. Corbin was financially destroyed, but Gould and Fisk barely escaped the selling deluge. Investigations into the corruption were complex. In the end Grant survived in his presidency, but just barely. Looking at this Gem Cameo Proof eagle can often lead one into the immense history of the era, and the tidal forces that were ever changing the sandy coast of the politics of 1869. Pop 2; none finer at NGC (PCGS # 88464) Estimated Value $45,000 - 50,000

Ex: Eliasberg.

Realized $71,969

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