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Coin of the Issue: The Magnificent 1845 Gold Proof Set


The 1845 Gold Proof Set consists of a Liberty Head Quarter Eagle, Liberty Head Half Eagle, and Liberty Head Eagle, which were the only gold coins the United States Mint was producing at the time. The coins grade PCGS PR66+CAM, PCGS PR66DCAM, and PCGS PR65CAM, respectively. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click images to enlarge.

Classic United States gold coins top many numismatic wish lists, with few collectors ever able to realize what many would consider an ultimate goal – owning early proof gold coinage. The United States Mint struck proof coins by the 1820s, but proof coinage struck before 1858 is rare. Gold proofs from the pre-1858 era are even rarer still, with quantities measured by the handful. That is certainly the case with the 1845 gold proof coinage.

Just three sets of proof gold were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1845. One of these sets resides at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The other has never been seen. Where is the third set? It is held by Tangible Investments, Inc., with its original leather mint box, to boot!

1845 Liberty Head Quarter Eagle Gold Proof, PR66+CAM. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.
1845 Liberty Head Half Eagle Gold Proof, PR66DCAM. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.
1845 Liberty Head Eagle Gold Proof, PR65CAM. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click image to enlarge.

“In 1845, there were only two known collectors who could afford to buy proof coins from the United States Mint – Joseph Mickley and Matthew Stickney,” said Silvano DiGenova, owner of Tangible Investments, Inc. He explained that early proofs, such as the three stellar proofs featured here, were known as “master coins,” struck for celebratory presentation purposes rather than for sale to the broader numismatic public. “A third set was presented to a dignitary who exported it to England, where it remained until the 1970s.”

Mike Bonham, executive vice president of Tangible Investments, Inc., noted, “The set presented here was acquired by prominent collector John Jay Pittman in 1948 and kept intact for 50 years until his family sold the collection in the late 1990s. The set resided in the Tacasyl Collection, which was the finest collection of proof gold coins ever assembled.”

This is the original United States Mint presentation box in which the 1845 Gold Proof Set came. Note the portals for other 1845 proof coinage. Courtesy of Tangible Investments, Inc. Click image to enlarge.

This three-piece gold proof set is representative of all the United States gold coins in production in the mid-1840s. The gold dollar wouldn’t come along until 1849, a year before the first double eagle debuted in mainstream circulation during 1850. The $3 gold coin arose in 1854, and the rare $4 Stella didn’t emerge until 1879. The quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle proudly sport their Liberty Head designs by Christian Gobrecht, and were all circulating issues, with the half-eagle a true workhorse coin of its day.

The proofs assembled here are unquestionably the best of the best. The 1845 Quarter Eagle graded PCGS PR66+CAM, with the 1845 Half Eagle grading PR66DCAM and the magnificent 1845 Eagle rounding out the set at PCGS PR65CAM. This three-coin set, ranked as number one for its category in the PCGS Set Registry, is estimated to be valued in the seven figures. For more information about the 1845 Gold Proof Set, contact Mike Bonham by phone at 949-878-0393 or by email address via [email protected].

History Liberty Eagles (1838-1907) Liberty Half Eagles (1839-1908) Liberty Quarter Eagles (1840-1907)