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Press Release - June 30, 2004
Heritage to offer "Superbird" Quarter Pair at Pittsburgh ANA Signature Auction
Dallas, Texas: A pair of popular "Superbird" proof 1952 quarters will be placed under the auctioneer's hammer at Heritage's Pittsburgh Signature Auction. Heritage is the official auctioneer of the 2004 American Numismatic Association's "World's Fair of Money" convention, to be held in Pittsburgh the week of August 16 to 21.
According to Bill Fivaz, co-author of The Cherrypickers' Guide, 1952 proof Washington quarters sporting what appears to be an 'S' mintmark on the eagle's chest will be assigned variety designation FS-25c-1952-3 in Volume 2 of the forthcoming edition of the Guide. David Lange, a director at Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, states that "NGC is already accepting and attributing this variety and will use the 'Superbird' moniker on its label." With this formal recognition, the unusual but easily remembered "Superbird" variety will soon join the ranks of many other varieties highly sought after by collectors of the Washington quarter series. As the only proof Washington to display what appears to be an "S" in the center of its chest, the 1952 "Superbird" is certain to become a popular variety among specialists of the series, and may appeal to all numismatists who share a sense of whimsy.
The nickname "Superbird" was first 'coined' by Val J. Webb and was published in his 1984 book Cameo Proofs 1950-1964. Mr. Webb opined that the "Superbird" was exceedingly rare in heavy contrasted proof cameo condition.
Ken Potter, in his March 1998 installment of the Varieties Notebook in Coin World newspaper introduced us to the first image of "Superbird" variety. Citing that it was an "oldie" known within the hobby, Potter speculated that the "S" which appears on the eagle's breast may have been the deliberate work of an engraver because lines strengthening the interior wing feathers are common to proof quarters of the era.
ANACS was the first grading service to use the "Superbird" moniker on its label, and has now certified at least 17 coins ranging in grades from PR63 to PR67.
How scarce is the "Superbird?" Only 81,980 proof 1952 sets were issued. If one assumes that the "Superbird" variety represents a single reverse die, which appears to be the case, then perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 strikes may have been made using this die according to David Lange. However, if hand engraving took place some time after the die was put into production, the actual number may be far less. With cleaning and damage to many existing 1952 proof sets, unimpaired survivors may be small, making it a very rare bird indeed.
Heritage offers two examples in their upcoming Pittsburgh Signature Auction. The first piece is graded PR64 by NGC, and is described as "an essentially brilliant near-Gem that has splendid surfaces and a bold strike."
The second specimen is certified as PR66 by NGC. The cataloger states that "the reverse of this brilliant and seemingly immaculate premium Gem offers mild white on black contrast."
Heritage's ANA Signature Auction will be posted on the Heritage website www.HeritageCoin.com in late July, and the Superbirds will available for bidding then; lot numbers will not be assigned until that time, but the auction can be searched for the "Superbird" lots. Registration at HeritageCoin.com is free to the 120,000+ members of the web community.
Images, descriptions, and prices realized are available in the Permanent Auction Archives.