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All Posts Tagged With: "Quarter Eagles"

US Gold Coins: Top Ten Rarest Liberty Head Quarter Eagles

Top Ten Rarest Liberty Head Eagles

By Doug Winter –

The response to the article that I wrote last month on the ten rarest Liberty Head eagles was so overwhelmingly positive that I’ve decided to extend this format to other denominations of Liberty Head gold. This month’s topic: quarter eagles.

The Liberty Head quarter eagle series was produced from 1840 through 1907. Unlike the larger denomination issues of this type, quarter eagles were never produced at the Carson City or Denver mints. Thus, these coins were produced at five facilities: Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Charlotte and Dahlonega.

1854-S, 1864 and 1841 Quarter EaglesThere are numerous ways in which to collect Liberty Head quarter eagles. Most specialists focus on the issues from a specific mint. The most popular individual mint is Dahlonega, followed by Charlotte and New Orleans.

A small but dedicated cadre of collectors attempts to put together a complete set of Liberty Head quarter eagles. Such a set can be completed although at least two or three issues are very rare and quite expensive. This set is impossible to complete in Uncirculated due to the unavailability of at least one issue (the 1854-S) in Mint State. Every other issue, however, is known in Uncirculated although a number of these are extremely rare.

Some of the collectors who are attempting to assemble a complete set of Liberty Head quarter eagles also include significant varieties. These are generally limited to the ones that are recognized by PCGS and/or NGC.

One interesting way to collect this series would be to focus on the major rarities or key issues. But in the case of the Liberty Head quarter eagles, the most famous coins are not necessarily the rarest. Most readers of this article will be surprised that I have not included the famous 1848 CAL in the list of the ten rarest issues of this type. Even though this is clearly one of the ten most popular (and most desirable) issues, it is less scarce than generally acknowledged and it does not make the Top Ten list.

Without further ado, here are the ten rarest Liberty Head quarter eagles along with pertinent information about each issue:

1. 1854-S:

The 1854-S is the rarest Liberty Head quarter eagle by a fairly large margin. There are around a dozen examples known from the original mintage of just 246 coins. Something that I have always found interesting about this date is the fact that most of the survivors are extremely well worn. At least five or six of the dozen known either grade VF20 or less or show damage. In fact, I am aware of just two examples that grade EF (by my standards) and a single coin that grades AU. For many years, the 1854-S was overlooked and, in comparison to other great U.S. gold rarities, it was greatly undervalued. The first example of this date to sell for a six-figure price was Bass II: 472 (now graded AU53 by NGC) that brought $135,700 in October 1999. In September 2005, I purchased an NGC EF45 example that was previously unknown to the collecting community out of an ANR auction for $253,000. This record was broken in February 2007 when a PCGS EF45 brought $345,000 in a Heritage sale. My best guess is that prices will continue to rise for this issue and the next comparatively choice example that is made available to collectors will set another price record. (more…)

America’s Forgotten Coin Rarities: The 1842 Quarter Eagle

By Doug Winter –

In the second part of this series on coins that I believe are truly rare but not fully appreciated I am turning my focus on an issue that is very interesting to me: the 1842 quarter eagle.

1842 is, in general, an interesting year for quarter eagles. Four mints produced these coins: Philadelphia, New Orleans, Charlotte and Dahlonega. The mintage figures ranged from a low of 2,823 at Philadelphia to a high of 19,800 at New Orleans. With the exception of the 1842-O, all four are quite scarce in any grade and each is very rare in high grades.

Although it is not the most highly valued quarter eagle dated 1842 (that honor goes to the 1842-D), the 1842 is the rarest, both in terms of overall and high grade rarity. There are an estimated 35-45 known in all grades with most in the Very Fine to Extremely Fine range. I believe that there are six to eight in properly graded About Uncirculated and I think this date is unique in Uncirculated.

The most recent PCGS/NGC population figures show a combined total of fifty graded. This includes two in Uncirculated (more on these in a moment…) and eighteen in About Uncirculated. The population figures are, as usual, inflated, especially the AU coins listed by NGC.

This is generally a well made issue which shows good overall detail at the centers and borders. The luster tends to be semi-reflective but most 1842 quarter eagles are either worn to the point that they show no luster or they have been stripped and display little if any original surface. Most of the pieces I have seen have been abraded and at least a few are either damaged from having been scratched or show evidence of rim filing. The natural coloration is a bright yellow gold. (more…)

The Norweb-Bass MS66 1911-D Quarter Eagle

The Norweb Collection was a legend while still owned by its namesake family, and while two decades have passed since the three auctions that dispersed most of it, time has only added to its importance to collectors.

Quality and rarity are the chief watchwords; no discussion of early copper, colonials, proof silver, or early and Southern-Western gold would be complete without acknowledging the Norweb influence and legacy. Rarities such as a Gem Proof 1829 Small Planchet half eagle and an 1885 Trade dollar stand out in the auction, as does the famed 1861 Paquet double eagle.

Similarly, Harry W. Bass, Jr. built his knowledge and his collection into formidable forces whose effects on current and future numismatists continue to unfold. While his study of early gold coinage is first to come to mind (especially to those who peruse the early gold listings in this catalog, which are attributed by Bass-Dannreuther numbers), though as with the Norwebs, he also had extensive holdings in Charlotte and Dahlonega gold, as well as classic proof gold.

With all of the emphasis on the two collections’ 18th and 19th century rarities, a number of important later pieces in both collections have gone under the radar of many enthusiasts. Doubtless the Norwebs’ 20th century holdings would be better-remembered if their 1913 Liberty nickel had been sold at auction and not turned over to the Smithsonian, for example. Similarly, the detailed note-taking of Bass did not extend to 20th century issues, which were less interesting to a student of die varieties than their forebears.

Yet both collections contained a number of important 20th century coins, both recognized at the time of auction and unheralded but now appreciated. The 1911-D quarter eagle Heritage is offering in their 2010 March Fort Worth, TX Signature ANA US Coin Auction was one of the former, a coin that attained considerable individual fame with its modern-era debut at the Norweb auction; it had been sold to the Norwebs by B. Max Mehl, likely in the late 1930s. It was graded MS64 by the auctioneers, who then went on to say, “We have never seen a finer specimen.” (more…)

US Gold Coins: The Ten Rarest Early Quarter Eagles

By Doug Winter –

During 2009, I wrote a series of “ten rarest” articles on all the major denominations of Liberty Head gold coinage. These articles were well-received and I enjoyed producing them. It’s a logical progression to apply this topic to the early gold series. Except it’s not quite that easy.

The eagle denomination is very short-lived (1795-1804) making a ten rarest study impractical. And the ten rarest early half eagles contain a host of issues that are so rare that collecting them becomes impractical. That leaves us, for the sake of practicality, with just early quarter eagles.

Five designs of quarter eagle were produced between 1796 and 1834. There are a total of 23 distinct issues and even the most available of these is rare by the standards of American numismatics.

Early quarter eagles have always been undervalued and under collected in comparison to their larger-size counterparts. This has changed somewhat in the last few years as price for early quarter eagles have risen; along with most early coins in general.

Each of the ten rarest early quarter eagles is very hard to locate and a few of them are even six-figure coins in most grades. But what is most intriguing about this list is the fact that a collector with a good deal of patience and a solid coin budget could actually assemble a complete top ten list; something that certainly can’t be said for half eagles.

dw_rarest_250_012110The list of the ten rarest early quarter eagles is as follows:
1. 1804 13 Stars
2. 1834 No Motto
3. 1797
4. 1806/5
5. 1796 With Stars
6. 1798
7. 1826/5
8. 1824/1
9. 1827
10. 1833