Gold $20 Liberty Head
What exactly is a Specimen Strike? For generations it has been the thrill of the hunt for the coin collector that is often more fun than the acquisition, and every now and then a coin pops up which results as the ultimate trophy prize. A Specimen Strike coin is essentially any coin that is clearly produced with special care, individually, and often for presentation purposes. Since Branch Mints did not technically possess the appropriate equipment for “Proof” die strikes, these are most often very specially prepared dies used with the equipment they have and for a unique purpose.
This is the earliest dated branch mint occurrence of the series, of just a few dates that have ever seen a Specimen Strike at all (1852-O, 1853-O, 1861-O for example).
Such a coin is not limited just by the money required to obtain it, but by actually being in the right place and at the right time and under the right circumstances to even be offered it.
The “Specimen” designation is given to those coins that that can’t be compared to anything else because there just isn’t anything else like it. A Hybrid between a business strike and a proof, some might call it, but a coin almost handpicked for special preparation unlike business strikes and proofs which were manufactured for commerce and collectors.
A coin like this, left undiscovered for many decades, likely traveled through some of its life and made contact with some other coins to give it it’s numerical “61” grade but indeed, some of the hobby’s greatest coins lived such a life as well because their status wasn’t recognized or appreciated for many years. Its unique status as the only example known, and now becoming the very first specimen or proof striking from the New Orleans Mint will make it an immense object of desire to those with the means to be its custodian.
Branch Mints lacked the equipment necessary to produce true Proofs such as those made in Philadelphia, and even the ones made in Philadelphia are extreme rarities during the 1840’s and 1850’s worth six-figures in just about all collectable grades. The coin was no doubt deliberately prepared for presentation or some other special purpose.
A glorious opportunity. A magnificent coin offered only because you’re in the right place and at the right time to be given this chance. A chance at history. A chance to be the one. The only.
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