Most casual collectors and serious numismatists, myself included, marvel at the pristine quality of the annual proof sets which are produced at the US Mint today. With stringent precision and almost hospital like conditions, coins are virtually perfect when they leave the dies. Then sealed with utmost care into their respective holder, long lasting perfection is fundamentally assured for generations to come. If the visual thrill for modern proof sets excites the average collector imagine the delight when the accomplished numismatist is able to examine pristine original proof sets coined in the 19th century! Well that opportunity has presented itself!
Ross Baldwin President of National Coin Broker has three such glorious impeccably preserved proof sets available. “I can hardly believe it myself” said Ross Baldwin, sets like these just don’t appear with any frequency and when they do come to market there is always heated demand for them. In most instances there can only be several hundred or fewer complete sets available which the astute collector could hope to acquire. With competition raging for the finest registry sets known the enthusiasm on the playing field is elevated when complete sets of coins from any given mid-19th century date come to market. That is precisely the case here; there are three separate offerings of magnificent complete minor proof sets which have been kept together since their production, in some instances over a century and a half ago.
All of these coins are pristine advised Mr. Baldwin, totally original and a joy to behold. Each set is encapsulated in the old-style NGC Museum holder or holders which allow the complete visual continuity of the sets. All of the following is also pedigreed to the fabulous Boca collection.
Seven-Piece 1888 Proof Set NGC, Featuring PR67 Quarter
1888 was an interesting year politically, incumbent President Grover Cleveland was running for his second term in office and although the economy was relatively prosperous and the nation was at peace Cleveland lost reelection to Benjamin Harrison. Even though Grover Cleveland carried a higher percentage of the popular vote he lost the electoral college vote by a slender margin to Mr. Harrison. Overseas in Mother England, the infamous “Jack the Ripper “as he was dubbed, was causing panic in the streets of the Whitechapel district of London. At home on the numismatic front things were relatively quiet. However there was to be a casualty, by 1888 the three cent nickel had long since outlived its usefulness in daily commerce, and in the following calendar year of 1889, it would be eliminated entirely from the US roster of circulating coins. Interestingly, the 1888 and 1889 three cent nickels had higher business-strike and proof mintages than the corresponding numbers for 1887. For 1888 there were 36,501 three cent nickel business strikes produced, along with only 4,582 proofs. The Indian cents of this year can be carelessly struck up as a rule, and full Red coins are quite elusive. Some of the Liberty nickel proofs exhibit a doubling of the date.
The proof silver coins, Dime through Dollar, had mintages of only 832 coins each! The proof Seated dime’s corresponding circulation strikes however had a plentiful mintage of nearly 5.5 million pieces. On the other hand, the proof Liberty Seated Quarter and Half Dollar proofs are always popular, due to the low mintages of their business-strike counterparts of 10,001 and 12,001 coins, respectively. This continues a long string of low-mintage Seated quarters and halves that began in 1879, the year after the introduction of the Morgan dollar and the seemingly never ending massive quantities of business strikes which were produced.
Bowers’ Morgan dollar Guide Book (3rd edition) notes that one of the “at least two” obverse dies used in this year shows slight repunching of the date. More concisely, Bowers writes of the proof Morgan: “Lightly struck at the centers and low contrast. About this time the Mint became sloppy in the making of Proofs, and not long afterward dealer Harlan P. Smith filed a formal complaint. Still, Proofs of the era beginning about now are not on a visual par with those earlier in the decade.”
1888 Indian Cent PR64 Brown. Truly captivating for a Brown designated coin with iridescent toning that includes shadowy peach as well as light sea-green, blue, and deep plum. Amazingly sharply struck with immense eye appeal for the grade, truly a premium coin. Only 139 coins grace the NGC population within this designation and only 49 share the proof 64BN description. Price guide reveals a $335 valuation which is seemingly unrealistic for a coin of this eye appealing nature.
1888 Three Cent Nickel PR66. Pale aqua and golden tints embrace each side of this elegant Premium Gem proof. Well struck overall with a hint of sophisticated satin on the portrait. 913 coins populate the NGC census with only 45 coins grading higher than the present specimen. NGC guide places an $850 value as of July 2011.
1888 Liberty Nickel PR66. Thin veils of cloud-white toning show glints of gold-green close to the rims. A sharply struck and immensely reflective beauty of undeniable quality. NGC report 704 coins within this designation with less than 100 grading two points higher. The NGC guide places a $910 valuation on this Ultra- Gem.
1888 Liberty Seated Dime PR64 . A few tiny hairlines and contact marks are visible on this near-Gem, but the coin’s sheer eye appeal renders these flaws all but irrelevant. The obverse has stunning cobalt and gold-orange peripheral patina around a near-brilliant center, with the latter color echoing at the reverse margins. NGC reports 233 specimens with only one with the star designation a modest $940 valuation is given. Certainly this specimen is a candidate for not only a higher grade but also a higher valuation!
1888 Liberty Seated Quarter PR67 . Exquisitely preserved and stunningly toned. The obverse’s peripheral blue and central gold-orange shadings offer a window into the coin’s original contrast, but the reverse is toned all the way across in cobalt and sunset-orange. Of the hundred and 69 pieces reported in the NGC census this is the sole PR67 example in the NGC Census Report awarded the Star designation, with none finer in this contrast category. Per July 2011 NGC price guide valuation = $6,830
1888 Liberty Seated Half PR65 Cameo. Unlike the previous two silver pieces, which were a bit too heavily although attractively toned to earn a Cameo designation, this Gem specimen has only light green-gold and mint shadings which extend into the fields. Away from the strongly contrasted centers, deeper ruby-plum color appears on parts of the rims. Truly an exquisite coin! A mere 49 coins populate the NGC census within this designation of which only nine are graded numerically a pointer to higher although it is hard to imagine any of those other coins to be the equal visually to this outstanding specimen. Price guide July 2011 values this coin at $4,200.
1888 Morgan Dollar PR66 Cameo. The pale blue shadings over the strongly mirrored reverse fields enhance the inherent contrast of this stunning example. Icy white devices have substantially above-average definition for the issue. A truly splendid Morgan Dollar! A slim 39 examples have been graded proof cameo according to the NGC census only 4 rate one numeric grading point higher than this prize example. Price guide valuation as of July 2011= $15,000
(Total valuation $29,065)
Call 800-707-7923 for Availability and Price