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1873 Closed 3 $5 Unique Specimen with Experimental Finish

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spaceNGC has certified this unique 1873 Closed 3 Five Dollar gold piece as a Specimen strike. It is the only such piece certified by either PCGS or NGC. It has the visual characteristics of a highly contrasted cameo proof, yet was struck from circulation dies. It is the Closed 3 variant (as are all proof strikes for the issue). High grade mint state examples are very rare and proofs are extremely rare.

spaceThere was considerable controversy after the coinage of 1873 was struck with the closed 3. Harry Boosel researched and wrote a book on the closed 3 coinage and the issues regarding the redesigning of the dies with an open 3 which resulted in the public being able to see that the coin was struck in 1873 and not 1878.

spaceThis unique 1873 $5 Closed 3 Specimen strike has an experimental finish and is a hybrid between a proof and a mint state coin. It has deep reflective fields and frosted devices with minimal contact marks. It was obviously made with precision and special care since there are die polish lines visible on both sides.

spaceAccording to the Numismatists at Heritage Auctions, "unlike regular proofs, there is no polish seen between the shield stripes, and the second vertical line of stripe 2 does not extend into the horizontals above, diagnostic of the 1866A proof reverse used until 1880. This coin may have been a one-off special strike requested by Mint Director Linderman, or a trial strike prior to implementation of the Open 3 dies."

spaceThis conclusively proves that this specimen strike was from specially prepared mint state dies that created a specimen with the appearance of a proof. No Proof or Specimen strikes are known of the Open 3 type. This coin possesses an irresistible combination of high technical quality, absolute rarity, and terrific eye appeal.

spaceThere are very few United States gold coins that have been authenticated and certified as specimens. An 1853 New Orleans $10 Liberty certified Specimen 61 by NGC sold in August 2010 for $316,250. A 1907 Denver $20 Liberty certified Specimen 66 by PCGS (1 of 4 known) sold wholesale for $400,000. A 1795 $5 Heraldic Eagle was certified Specimen 64 by NGC. An 1856 New Orleans $20 certified Specimen 63 by both PCGS and NGC recently sold in a private sale for $1.8M. An 1800 $10 was certified Specimen 65 by NGC. A 1921 $20 St. Gaudens sold for $1.4M prior to being certified Specimen 64 by NGC. Even a relatively common 1900 $20 Liberty authenticated and certified by NGC Specimen 66 sold for $87,000 in a Heritage Auction.

spaceAnother unique specimen gold piece which I handled is the famous 1843 Dahlonega $5 Liberty struck as a specimen and authenticated and certified by NGC as SP 65. This 1843 half eagle was struck at the Dahlonega Mint and is the only known or certified specimen or proof Dahlonega gold piece of any denomination. This coin is graded an impressive Specimen 65 by NGC, which is a rare designation by both NGC and PCGS. Heritage Auctions sold my 1843-D $5 Specimen 65 NGC for $282,000 in the April 2015 CSNS US Coins Signature Auction.

spaceThis is a great opportunity for a serious and advanced collector of U.S. gold coins to acquire this unique specimen for a world-class collection.

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According to the Numismatists at Heritage Auctions, "unlike regular proofs, there is no polish seen between the shield stripes, and the second vertical line of stripe 2 does not extend into the horizontals above, diagnostic of the 1866A proof reverse used until 1880."

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Proof Shield (left), Specimen Shield (center), Mint State Shield (right)


The 3 in the date was originally almost 'closed' creating confusion, since it looked like an 8. After re-designing the die with a different 3 that was 'open' more coins were struck at the Philadelphia Mint.

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There was considerable controversy after the coinage of 1873 was struck with the closed 3. Harry Boosel researched and wrote a book on the closed 3 coinage and the issues regarding the redesigning of the dies with an open 3 which resulted in the public being able to see that the coin was struck in 1873 and not 1878.

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Another unique specimen gold piece which I handled is the famous 1843 Dahlonega $5 Liberty struck as a specimen and authenticated and certified by NGC as SP 65. This 1843 half eagle was struck at the Dahlonega Mint and is the only known or certified specimen or proof Dahlonega gold piece of any denomination. This coin is graded an impressive Specimen 65 by NGC, which is a rare designation by both NGC and PCGS. Heritage Auctions sold my 1843-D $5 Specimen 65 NGC for $282,000 in the April 2015 CSNS US Coins Signature Auction.

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This half eagle is listed in the Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933 by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. Here is the description from page 288:

One extraordinary example of the 1843-D half eagle is known that has been certified by NGC as Specimen. The coin is deeply mirrored, and extremely well struck. The coin was probably a presentation striking of some sort. The occasion for the issue is unknown. The quality of the piece is exceptional as well, and the coin currently has been assigned a Specimen-65 rating. Branch-mint Proof and specimen issues are always interesting, and this coin certainly does not disappoint.

Although this unique $5 gold specimen is not a hub or die trial, it was struck with an experimental finish and is a test strike. More information on Hub and Die Trials can be found in Chapter 13 of the NLG award winning book, World's Greatest Mint Errors.

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