Estimated grade. Ex. Newlin (1884) Sold by Bowers & Ruddy Nov '79 Price realized $90000
David Akers (1975/88): Proofs are known and are extremely rare. One specimen is in the Smithsonian Institution, another in the ANS Collection, a third in the John Hopkins University Collection (PCGS CoinFacts editor note: the Garrett collection) and a fourth is owned by John J. Pittman who purchased it from the Melish Sale in 1956.
Ron Guth: The year 1854 saw a couple of design changes in U.S. coins, all initiated by James Ross Snowden, who became Mint Director in 1853. On the Three Cent Silver coins, the weight was reduced, two outlines were added around the star on the obverse, and an olive branch and a bunch of arrows were added to the reverse. Rays were removed from the reverse of the Quarter Dollar and Half Dollar denominations. And, the Gold Dollar was redesigned by Longacre to feature a Liberty head and wreath similar to those seen on the new Three Dollar Gold pieces (which also debuted earlier in 1854).
No circulation strikes are known from the 1854 Proof dies.
The 1854 Proof dies are different from any other circulation strike or Proof dies used later in 1854 or in 1855 and 1856. Differences include a higher positioning of "LIBERTY" on the headband, smaller beads in the top row, and some separation of the first three feathers in the headdress.
One Proof example was sent to Treasury Secretary Guthrie for approval on August 17, 1854; it was returned on August 18 and coinage began on August 19. The decision to begin striking was based on the approval of the Proof example viewed by Guthrie, but apparently, modifications to the dies had already been made based on internal Mint decisions to reject the original design.
The only complete set of 1854 Proof coins known was presented to the City of Bremen in July, 1854 in a swap for some of their coins. This was well before the Small Indian Head Proofs made their appearance. No other complete Proof sets are known or suspected.
1. PCGS Proof-65. Colonel Mendes Cohen sale, 1875, Lot 240 - Lorin G. Parmalee sale, 1890, Lot 1244 - William H. Woodin sale, 1911, Lot 851 - Abe Kosoff's 1956 "Thomas Melish" sale, Lot 1742, sold for $525.00 - John Jay Pittman - David Akers Numismatics, Inc. sale of the John Jay Pittman collection, October 21-23, 1997, Lot 864, "Very Choice Proof", sold for $176,000.00. Breen called this coin "cleaned" in his 1977 "Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977", but his error in attributing the provenance of this coin (see below), plus the grade assigned by PCGS, call his judgment into question!
2. PCGS Proof-64. Superior Stamp and Coin "Pre-Long Beach" sale, September 1997, Lot 2846
3. Proof. Harold P. Newlin, October 31, 1884 - John Works Garrett, Lot 403, sold for $90,000 - Auction '83, Lot 761.
4. Proof. National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
5. Proof. Brock - J.P. Morgan - American Numismatic Association.
6. Proof-40 (certified, but not by PCGS) is mentioned by Akers in the Pittman catalog.
#2 and #3 may be the same coin.
Breen incorrectly listed Floyd Starr as the owner of #1 above (Pittman's coin), but Starr's Proof Small Indian Head Gold Dollar was an 1855, not an 1854!
Sources and/or recommended reading:
"Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins 1722-1977" by Walter Breen
Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia Of U.S. And Colonial Coins" by Walter Breen