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In the years following the Civil War coin collecting in the United States was a small but growing pastime that was almost exclusively limited to a small network of dealers and collectors in the Northeast. Collectors in 1867 were most likely to be pursuing early coppers such as Colonials, half cents, or large cents. Indeed, only a handful of these fledgling numismatists were inclined to purchase and had the financial means to acquire annual proof sets that extended beyond the current minor coinage. The few sets of proof gold coinage that were obtained from the Mint during this time period were often broken up and sold individually in the following decades, or during downturns in the economy were used as circulating medium when their owner could no longer afford to hold aside the large face value that gold coins represented. Today, many of these pieces are virtually indistinguishable from their circulation counterparts. In fact, debate over whether a circulated Philadelphia gold coin is a business strike or a proof is a fairly regular occurrence in these offices.
Only 50 proof double eagles were produced in 1867, half of which were delivered on March 5 and the other 25 pieces on July 2. The number of survivors is believed to number no more than a dozen coins. Akers suggests that many of the 50 pieces struck went unsold at year's end and were subsequently melted. As with all other double eagles of this period, 1867 proof twenties are exceedingly rare, and the splendid preservation of this specimen along with its impeccable pedigree place it in a category all its own.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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