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Finest-Known 1901-S Barber Quarter to be sold by Bowers and Merena in Baltimore

This is the undisputed “King of Barber Coinage,” the rare and eagerly sought 1901-S Quarter. The San Francisco Mint struck a mere 72,664 Quarters in 1901, which snatched the record low mintage for the Barber series from the hands of the 1896-S (188,039 pieces produced).

This record would remain intact until 1913, when the San Francisco Mint delivered a mere 40,000 Quarters. The 1901-S is much rarer than the 1913-S in all grades, however, for the issue was saved in far fewer numbers by the contemporary public.

Indeed, little interest seems to have been taken in the 1901-S Quarter at the time of its production, especially numismatic interest. What interest there was in the 1901-S seems to have been focused entirely on the issue’s usefulness as a circulating medium of exchange. And circulate these coins did, many of the 72,664 pieces being lost in the process and most survivors displaying heavy wear. As with most issues in the various Barber coin series, in fact, the only 1901-S Quarters that are seen on a fairly regular basis in numismatic circles are low-grade pieces in AG, Good and VG.

Even at the lower reaches of the numismatic grading scale, however, the limited mintage guaranteed that the 1901-S would be a scarce coin in an absolute sense. Rarity increases exponentially through the Fine, VF, EF and AU grade levels, at which point we find ourselves at the Mint State portion of the grading scale. Here the 1901-S is very rare, the small number of such pieces known to exist having survived almost purely as a matter of chance.

The B&M cataloger has never seen a 1901-S Quarter with the technical merits and eye appeal of this awe-inspiring Superb Gem. This is the single highest-graded 1901-S Barber Quarter known to PCGS, and the coin fully deserves every bit of honor that derives from this important standing.

Both sides are totally and completely original with a full endowment of bright, frosty mint luster. The obverse is largely untoned, and we see only a few speckles of extremely faint champagne-pink iridescence scattered about near the rims. The center of the reverse is brilliant, that side of the coin also displaying a halo of iridescent reddish-apricot peripheral toning.

The surfaces are essentially pristine (the reverse, in particular, seems to be completely devoid of marks), and they are certainly as close to this distinction as we have ever seen in an ’01-S Quarter. The strike is also near perfect, both sides overall fully defined with extremely minor softness of detail confined to star 11 on the obverse.

Far and away the finest-known example of the rare, key-date 1901-S, this captivating Superb Gem belongs in the finest Barber Quarter collection. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the PCGS Set Registry collector, and a coin that would also serve as the centerpiece in a more expansive numismatic cabinet.

PCGS Population: just 1; 0 finer. There are no 1901-S Barber Quarters certified finer than MS-67 in a NGC holder.

Lot 737 in the March 2010 Bowers and Merena Baltimore Sale

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