1873 Three-Dollar Gold Piece. JD-1. Rarity-7-. Open 3. Original. Proof-66 Ultra Cameo (NGC). A gorgeous premium Gem to represent this famous Proof-only rarity in the three-dollar gold series. Both sides exhibit lovely color in a deep, vivid orange-gold. The fields are highly reflective with a subtle "orange peel" texture evident as the coin rotates under a light. The devices are fully impressed with razor sharp detail, and they are set apart from the fields by a softly frosted texture. Both sides are expectably smooth for the assigned grade, and the eye appeal is outstanding.<p>The year 1873 is one of the most fascinating, desirable, and also enigmatic in the three-dollar gold series. All issues of this year are classic rarities, their origin, striking period and status as original or restrikes being debated by numismatic scholars for decades. In his outstanding new (2018) reference <em>United States Proof Coins, Volume IV: Gold, Part One</em>, John W. Dannreuther presents a conclusive argument for the status and striking order of the 1873 Proofs. In the authors opinion, the 25 Proof three-dollar gold pieces struck in 1873 were delivered from February 11 through 18, possibly just on those two days. The first examples struck were Close 3 Proofs of the variety now attributed as JD-2. This variety is presently unique, the only known example part of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution. Dannreuther believes that that coin is the specimen that the Mint Cabinet acquired on February 11, 1873 as part of a 16-piece Proof set of 1873 coinage, which now resides in the National Numismatic Collection.<p>Shortly after striking the JD-2 specimen in the National Numismatic Collection, the obverse die sunk, resulting in the creation of the JD-3 Dished Close 3 variety, of which only a handful are known. These coins were undoubtedly struck on February 11 or a few days thereafter. The Mint then halted Proof three-dollar gold production so that new dies could be made: a new obverse to replace the sunken obverse of JD-2 and JD-3, and a new reverse featuring the Open 3 date logotype. These dies, in the currently attributed JD-1 pairing, struck the remaining Proof 1873 three-dollar pieces on February 18 that are included in the Mint Directors reported mintage of 25 Proofs for the year. Thus, JD-1, JD-2, and JD-3 are all original Proof strikings of the 1873 three-dollar gold issue, the combined mintage for all three die pairings just 25 coins.<p>The obverse die of the JD-1 variety was later used to strike all known Proof 1874 and 1875 three-dollar gold pieces. A later state of this obverse is also known on some Proof 1873 Open 3 three-dollar gold coins, which pieces were obviously produced after the Proof 1874 and 1875 coins and, thus, are restrikes. Dannreuther attributes this restrike variety of the Proof 1873 Open 3 as JD-4.<p>No circulation strike 1873 Open 3 three-dollar coins are known, so the issue is a Proof-only one. Circulation strikes are known for the 1873 Close 3, however, although that enigmatic issue is not mentioned in the Mint Directors report, its status as an original or restrike still open for debate.<p>The coin offered here is a JD-1 original striking of the Proof 1873 Open 3, attributable by (among other features) faint die lines under Libertys chin, from the denticles above the letter O in OF to the upper left corner of the F, and from the right foot of the same letter F slanting down to the left. These die lines, which are also present on the Proofs of 1874 and 1875, were removed by die lapping before production of the restrike Proof JD-4 coins.<p>JD-1 is the most frequently encountered variety of the Proof 1873 three-dollar gold issue, and it likely accounted for the majority of the 25 original Proofs struck that year. Of course, all Proofs of this date are exceedingly rare in an absolute sense, JD-1 with an extant population of fewer than 15 coins in our opinion. The present coin, a leading highlight of the gold offerings in this sale, is sure to have no difficulty finding its way into an advanced cabinet.