Coin ID: 1900024-006
Proof 1896 half eagles are of special interest to collectors and investors for two reasons, availability and high-quality production. This was the first year the mintage of proof fives crossed the 100-coin threshold, with 103 pieces struck. Just over half that mintage are believed extant today. John Dannreuther estimates between 50 and 65 pieces have survived. Of those survivors, a surprising number grade PR64 or higher. The second reason for high collector interest in the 1896 is the quality of the proofs produced. Dannreuther undoubtedly expresses it best:
"Many numismatists consider the 1896 coinage the holy grail of collector coins, even more so than the 1895 issues. The Mint reached the limit of deep frost in this year, although it continued through 1901 in nearly all denominations. The heavy contrast of the raised elements and deeply mirrored fields makes this year's Proof production, along with the coins of the previous few years and until 1901, the desire of type collectors. When one sees a deep cameo Proof gold coin from this era, you can understand why collectors and dealers complained about the Matte Proof coinage when the new designs were introduced for the four remaining gold denominations."