Matte Proof Indian quarter eagles and half eagles of the early 20th century
occupy a special niche in United States numismatics. The innovative sunken-relief
design (courtesy of collaboration between Bella Lyon Pratt and William Sturgis)
certainly captured the attention of the contemporary public, but the bold matte
finish also set these coins apart from the norm.
Proofs of the preceding Liberty design had been produced using either a cameo
or all-brilliant finish, the Proofs of the Indian series used specially
prepared, satin-finish dies, and were usually sand blasted after striking to
provide a heavy, coarse-grain texture. Although a radical departure from Mint tradition,
this technique had already seen widespread use by the mint masters in Europe by
the early 20th century. Additionally, the U.S. Mint itself had used this finish
in preparation of certain medals during the later years of the 19th century.
with the Proof issues of 1908, the Matte finish proved to be unpopular with the
contemporary public and considerable quantities remained unsold at the end of each
of the year, and fell victim to the melting pot. Perhaps just a third of the 125 Proof coins
struck in 1914 remain available, a far higher attrition rate than would be
normally expected. Thankfully, public opinion had drastically swayed over the
past century, and these Matte Proof treasures are now cherished for their
rarity and beauty.
within this exclusive subset, the example to be offered in our March 2017
Baltimore Auction is a glorious anomaly. It is the sole finest survivor of the
1914 Proof issue graded by PCGS, and is one of just two coins in the entire
Indian half eagle series to have been certified Proof-68 by that firm.
the surfaces are flawless. Examination with a glass reveals nothing beyond glimmering
facets and delicately sculpted motifs. The olive-gold patina is uniform and
rich throughout, imparting a warm complexion that glows beneath illumination. A
wire rim projects from much of the obverse border, testifying to the
exceptional strike that rendered this magnificent jewel.
Matte Proof-68 Gem will be featured among otherworld-class rarities in our
March 2017 Official Auction of the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo, sold
in conjunction with the D. Brent Pogue Collection Part V. To secure your copy
of these exciting catalogs, please contact our offices today at 1-800-458-4646.