In 1887, the Philadelphia Mint struck both the half eagle and double eagle in proof only format. Both have become popular rarities for their respective series. For the half eagles, this is the sole proof-only issue, while the double eagles have three such issues.
The 1887 Proof Liberty Half Eagle had a reported mintage of 87 pieces, although the majority of these have not survived. A number of pieces may have gone unsold and were melted by the Mint, while others seem to have been spent into circulation at face value. The latter situation is supported by the large number of impaired or circulated examples counted amongst the survivors.
It is estimated that 35 to 40 pieces survive across all grades. The number of unimpaired pieces is much lower, with exceptionally few pieces at the gem level. An example graded NGC PF 65 Cameo sold for $126,500 at an auction held in January 2011.