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This year witnessed the first in a series of minuscule double eagle deliveries from the Philadelphia Mint that would continue through 1887. In 1883, 1884, and 1887, the Mint delivered only proofs, while in the remaining years the production of business strikes was so small that extant representatives are equally as elusive as their proof counterparts. The current issue is no exception to this rule. The Philadelphia Mint produced a mere 2,260 business strike double eagles in 1881 and 61 proof specimens. Numismatic scholars believe that, of the former, 20-25 pieces are extant. Proof survivors number no more than 18 pieces, of which one is impounded in the ANS Museum and another is part of the Smithsonian's holdings.
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