1860 PROOF GOLD $20 LIBERTY - ONLY 6-8 KNOWN
NGC PR64 CAMEOThe 1860 Proof $20 Type-I Liberty is one of the premier rarities in the entire double eagle series. Proof Type-I Liberty Head double eagles of any date are rare, especially in high grade, and a proof double eagle of 1860 is exceptionally rare. In 1860 the Philadelphia Mint had a mintage 557,670 with only 59 proof struck, and most of these were melted. But because 1860 proofs are actually rarer than many later proofs with much lower mintages, it is likely that many were never sold and found their way to the melting pots.
The year 1860 was only three years after the first great wave of coin collecting arose in America. Proofs were made during the years 1858-1865, so 1860 was only the third year that the Mint publicly marketed proof coins to collectors. The proof mintage of the 1860 double eagles were manufactured with frosted devices against deeply mirrored fields, a prized attribute among collectors today. But in 1860 there were few coin collectors interested in assembling modern-era gold coins, and even fewer interested in preserving a proof double eagle over a Mint State business strike.
The absolute rarity of the 1860 proof double eagle is evident in the fact that the remarkable Harry Bass collection did not contain a proof example of this issue. Neither did the Eliasberg, Pittman, and Norweb collections. With its absence from these and other important collections of gold coinage, it is clear that this issue is a prominent rarity in proof format. Today, three of the survivors are ensconced in the museum collections at the ANA, the ANS, and the Smithsonian, and are off the market forever.
Think of all the hardships and economic challenges this coin's previous owners/custodians, must have endured for this gold piece to have survived in such pristine condition today. This coin was minted the year before the Civil War, and many catastrophes would follow. It survived the Reconstruction era, the Panic of 1893, the Panic of 1907, the Great Depression, the 1933 gold recall and meltdown, two World Wars, innumerable recessions and stock market fluctuations, any one of which might have been the cause for attrition of this proof double eagle, whether for profit or mere survival over the last 157 years.
1860 was an historic year in America. The Pony Express began, bringing mail over the 1,966 miles from St. Louis to Sacramento in 11 days. Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States, pledging to pass homestead legislation and to oppose the spread of slavery. Lincoln's victory provokes South Carolina to secede from the Union, sparking the Civil War. With a remarkable history, popularity, rarity, and continuing price increases of proof gold in recent years, this historic 1860 NGC Proof 64 Cameo commands attention in any collection, and has demonstrated previous price performance as an investment for potential market gains.
The combined NGC and PCGS population data includes submissions that are believed to be duplications from resubmissions, especially in PR64CAM. So today, it's estimated that only 6 to 8 total are known to survive.