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Long Beard's Blog

18 Oct 2022

Impossibility?

Coins-United States | Long Beard

Proof coins. Any collector at the hobby has at one point added a proof coin to their holding. A newer Washington quarter or modern commemorative. Perhaps it's a silver Roosevelt dime graded PF64 CAM. Yet how often, if at all, do we think of proof coins beyond those bearing the image of a President?As you must surely be thinking of them now, going a step further, does deep or ultra cameo enter the mind? This is the discussion of the week, pre-1900 deep cameo coinage. Enjoy!




Rick Tomaska, the "King of Cameos", has repeated stated that coinage of the 1950's are extremely rare in grades of cameo and rightfully so as they are far and few between. "They shouldn't exist" and "because of the technology of the time unlike today" he goes on. While that first line most certainly applies, not only to the series he references, but those years before as the four images below confirm. Four of many, many others that also contradict and prove the latter common misleading at best. In no manner is this a question of his expertise or knowledge, nor a personal attack in any shape or form. Rather a clearing of the air, so to speak, and presenting the factual proof. No pun intended.




When we talk of, and think of proof coins prior to 1900 the vast majority are of the standard proof designation, such as NGC PF65. Most will probably not possess a proof coin from the 1800's, or early 1900's, yet if we do this will most likely be it's designation. Surprisingly, a proof dime of the Seated series is not all that expensive given time to save for the purchase as these are quite common. Not to mention, more often than not, cheaper than the identical coin in mint state of the same grade and boasting a much smaller mintage total. Dependent upon the series and date, a proof coin ranging in denomination of the cent to the dime are most likely all that the average collector might acquire. The next designation, cameo (CAM) absolutely stretching the limit. Even though they exist in somewhat great numbers, these quickly enter a bidding frenzy and set records.



Deep cameos prior to 1913 on the other hand require pockets equally deep as they command figures well above and beyond most collectors. And rightfully so as these are seldom seen at auction. Those who hold them tend to do so for long periods of time and when they do find their way into an auction house the opening bid alone makes them unobtainable. In spite of this, and from a personal perspective, these truly should not exist having past the test of time for certain. But how is this even possible? The 1834 Capped Bust quarter depicted, forget the grade. Frosted devices with mirrored fields and only a hint of toning after 188 years. Literally unimaginable to comprehend. And what would it bring at auction when it goes up for sale?




While I have held some cameo graded specimens in my hands over the years, unable to buy them-yet- to see these in their as struck, pristine deep cameo becomes mind boggling. For a lack of words. Unimaginable, not impossible as we are sometimes lead to believe. A few years back, I pose the question of full red copper cents to a Tennessee coin dealer I had met at the PAN show. He replied that it was very common back then to coat a coin in clear vanish or laquer. which acetone easily removes even after years of being "encapsulated". Would this same technique apply to proof coinage? Perhaps a science experiment with a modern deep cameo commemorative is in order? (One quite common, with a high mintage and cheap). Any thoughts or ideas on the week's subject?



The 1898 Barber quarter and 1887 Morgan dollar are courtesy of PCGS coin facts

The 1834 Capped Bust Quarter courtesy of Greysheets.com

The 1888 Seated half dollar courtesy of Stacks & Bowers


Comments

Kepi

Level 6

Great blog! Nothing quite like a Ultra Cameo! The 1834 Capped Bust Quarter is amazing!!! ; )

Long Beard

Level 5

And struck on an old, pre-steam screw press. Amazing that it is an ultra cameo much less to have survived the test of time.

Mike

Level 7

I have watched his show for years. Even when he was with Barry Chappel. Myself and others noticed all his half dollars looked polished again. Think of it. He's great friends with NGC. He has his own labels. So the coins come out of the old label polished and put back with his. I haven't seen half dollars that look that good in decades. You can't tell me they were a hoard in a bank.. This is my opinion and others. Look as see the circular motion on every coin! I'm not saying he does it but he keeps pulling rabbits out of a hat and charges a fortune for it! Just a guess.That's all it is!

It's Mokie

Level 6

Funny how Tomaska asserts that the 1950's cameos are rare and yet he seems to pull an infinite number out of his orifice to sell at premium rates. What is his secret? Some special processing? Let us know Mr. T.

Long Beard

Level 5

Could not agree more. While he is an expert on the subject I think his dark side is over exaggerated and over inflated coins to turn a hefty premium. Not all, but more than he should.

AC coin$

Level 6

One of the many things that amaze me is the variety of pressures amplíen to the piece at the mint in order to produce either oroof or other quality of finish. This is excellent information you have shared. Thanks.

Longstrider

Level 6

Great blog. I need to go back and read it again. A lot of info here. I love the EPN coins. Thanks.

Long Beard

Level 5

I miss the old guy. The hobby lost a true expert in the field of numismatics.

Mike

Level 7

Rick Tomaska has written six books. The cameo book made his name. I enjoy watching his show. He has all the numbers. But the numbers for the price of his coins are to high. But he stands behind everyone. You can learn allot from him. Just keep your money in your pocket. He has the best cameos I have seen. And your right some should not be graded cameo or ultra cameo. Another great blog. We learn allot from you also!!

Long Beard

Level 5

I own his first book, hard cover in first edition. I'm looking for the revised current edition.

Rebelfire76

Level 4

Definitely don’t see cameo or ultra cameo much in early-mid 1900s. So anything that is coming up in the 1800s as cameo, is extraordinarily rare. I definitely don’t have pockets big enough for those kinds of collection pieces. Rather try myself with a uncirculated mint or proof set, and just see what comes out of it.

Long Beard

Level 5

Nor I, deep pockets. But they do motivate me!

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