1885 $20 Liberty Double Eagle PCGS Proof-65 Cameo CAC. Directly pedigreed to the famous Will W. Neil Collection of 1947. The 1885 Liberty Double Eagle is an instantly recognizable rarity in both business strike and proof formats. Gold production that year at the Philadelphia Mint relied almost exclusively on the $5 and, to a lesser degree, $10 denominations to fulfill its obligations for gold coinage. In 1885, a token 751 business strikes rolled off the dies in addition to what was then a fairly typical production for Twenty Dollar gold pieces of 78 proofs. Either method-of-manufacture, business strike or proof, we’re dealing with a very rare coin here.
On the PCGS website, the estimated survival is 15-20 pieces. We’ve managed to trace 17 of these coins at auction since 1974. The present coin is not apart of this list, as it was acquired through B. Max Mehl (flip included) and has been off of the market since the 1940’s. It has been submitted to PCGS once and thereafter, CAC. The results are imaged before you. There is one coin finer at PCGS, a PR66+ and by the looks of the CAC Census, it has either not yet been submitted for their endorsement or it has been rejected. To-date, this coin is the highest PCGS graded 1885 PR $20 Liberty gold piece with a CAC endorsement.
Also, it’s been five (5) years since any 1885 Proof $20 has been offered for sale publicly, the last time during the August 2012 ANA. Here is the roster of PCGS graded offerings:
A list of the more pertinent auction appearances of a proof 1885 Double Eagle encapsulated by PCGS includes:
1. Ex.Highland Collection, Bowers & Merena 2005 @ $163,300; St. Louis Rarities Sale, Bowers & Merena 2007 @ $189,750; Chicago ANA Auction, Stacks Bower’s 2011 @ $230,000. This is PCGS PR66 Deep Cameo. Incidentally, prior to this coin realizing a new record price of $230,000, the PCGS published price was $200,000. Eight months earlier it was $180,000.
2. Ex: Chicago Sale (Superior, 8/1991), lot 823, where it realized $39,600. Certified PR64 by PCGS.
3. Ex: Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/1999), lot 1895, where it realized $75,900. A PR65 PCGS specimen.
5. Ex: 2003 February Long Beach Signature Sale (Heritage, 2/2003), lot 8562, where the price realized was $42,550. Certified PR64 Deep Cameo by PCGS.
The quality of this remarkable specimen rivals any 1885 we have ever seen, displaying peerless, glassy fields that are deeply reflective and provide a glittering background for the heavy mint frost seen over the devices. A tiny planchet flake below star 8 could hardly be considered a detriment to the coin, but may be useful for future pedigree. The rarity and importance of a proof 1885 Double Eagle is such that it would be considered a highlight of any gold collection. Population: 1 in 65 Cameo, 1 finer (7/17).
The present coin positively traces it’s provenance back to the June 17, 1947 B. Max Mehl sale of the Will W. Neil collection in Abilene, Kansas. It was a MUST ATTEND event as the catalog featured such remarkable and classic U.S. numismatic rarities as an 1802 Half Dime from the 1890 Parmalee sale, an 1894-S Barber dime; an 1876-CC twenty cent piece; an 1838-O Capped Bust proof half dollar; silver dollars, including a Mint State 1794, and 1804 dollar from the Atwater collection, an 1870-S Seated and 1884 Trade dollar; an original gold and silver 1843 10pc Proof set from the Colonel Green collection; a complete set of Stellas and a 1913 Liberty Nickel-! Not to mention 1792-dated coins including a Disme; a Silver-Centered Cent and a 1792 Cent without the silver center!!!
The coin we offer here was sold as lot #2689 (see image of flip attached) and was described in 1947 as: “Prefect Brilliant Proof. Extremely Rare. Only 828 specimens struck in all. Catalogs at $400 but a specimen in my great Atwater Sale brought $445, but at that time this coin cataloged for only $245. Valued by Mr. Neil at $650. A real rarity and a gem proof.” It brought $500 in that sale.