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All Posts Tagged With: "Walter Breen"

Unusual Items: 1853/4 25C Arrows and Rays Seated Quarter: A Strange Overdate

For Walter Breen to call a variety “strange” it must really be unusual, and the 1853/4 quarter does not fail to deliver.

Such a coin simply should not exist. Overdates, by their very nature, are always rehubbed over the previous year. And yet, here is irrefutable evidence that the earlier year was actually hubbed over the later year. Here is how Breen (1988) explained it:

“One of the strangest vars. in U.S. coinage is the 1853/1854, which I discovered in the Hirt collection (1976). This obv. must have been made during fall 1853, when dies were being prepared for both this year and 1854; an obv. die intended for 1853 was first given a blow with the 1854 logotype (whose arrows were differently placed), then several heavier blows with the 1853 logotype. Later states show only part of upright of 4 within 3; rarer earlier states show also part of the extra 85 and both sets of arrows.”

Because of the rarity of early die state pieces, some researchers have doubted the existence of the 4 beneath the 3. This coin should put any doubts to rest. Three major and minor points on the 4 underdigit can be seen on this coin, all of which add up to a convincing digit. First the main upright of the 1 is seen in the entire top loop of the 3 and extends downward slightly into the lower loop. From the bottom of the top ball of the 3, there remains a trace of the diagonal of the 4. On the right side of the 3, between the upper and lower loops, are traces of the vertical bar of the serif at the right side of the 4. Of course, the usual diagnostics are visible as well: repunching on the 8 and 5, and the profound doubling of the right arrowhead.

The 1853/4 is unsurprisingly the only quarter known to have been punched over the following year. When examples of this rare variety are located, they are usually well-worn and in later die states; often only the doubling of the shaft of the arrow is visible. This is the earliest die state we have observed, and light die clashing shows. This is significant as the die was lapped relatively early in order to remove the clashing. As Breen stated, “The latter [early die states] show heavy rev. clash marks, suggesting that obv. regrinding effaced both clash marks and the more obvious traces of overdate.” (more…)