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1896-S 25C MS66 NGC....

2012 November 29 - December 2 US Coin Signature Auction - Houston #1177

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Auction Ended On: Nov 29, 2012
Item Activity: 11 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: George R. Brown Convention Center
1001 Avenida de las Americas
Houston, TX 77010

1896-S Barber Quarter
Frosty Silver-White Premium Gem

Rarer Than the 1901-S in This Grade
1896-S 25C MS66 NGC. The 1896-S Barber quarter is the first of the "Big Three" S-mint keys to the series, along with the 1901-S and 1913-S. While the later 1901-S is perceived as the rarest overall within the series, the 1896-S is rarer in the Premium Gem grade of the present coin than the 1901-S, and certainly rarer than the 1913-S, which was hoarded at the time of issue. The 1901-S is correctly called the rarest series issue overall, but while many collectors are familiar with the low-grade AG to Very Good specimens that seem to turn up with considerable regularity at coin shows, series specialists also know that there are some remarkably high-grade survivors of the 1901-S as well, in MS66 and MS67.
PCGS has graded only a single example of the 1896-S in MS66, while NGC has seen this coin and one other in MS66 and one in MS67 -- a maximum of four examples at both services in Premium Gem or finer condition.
In comparison, the 1901-S quarter has seen three submissions in MS66 and two in MS67 at PCGS, while NGC has seen one each in MS66 and MS66 , along with two in MS67 -- a total of nine at both services in Premium Gem or finer.
It should thus come as little surprise that offerings of the 1896-S quarter in MS66 have been few at Heritage -- or anywhere else. Within the last decade we have twice offered MS66 NGC examples (or, more accurately, the same coin twice), with the most recent offering previous to those dating back to 1997: In our Dallas Signature (Heritage, 10/2008), lot 692 was a beautifully toned MS66 NGC piece that realized $89,125; and the same coin realized $57,589 in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2011), where it was lot 5518.
The present MS66 NGC coin is frosty silver-white on both sides, but it is a different strike from the same die pairing: Obverse Die 1, as described in David Lawrence's Complete Guide to Barber Quarters, shows the subtle "ear bars" die clash within Liberty's ear, and the Reverse Die 2 shows the S mintmark closer to the R in QUARTER than to the D in DOLLAR. We also note that on this piece, as on the other described above, die lapping has removed some of the detail from the reverse die at the top and just below the eagle's left (facing) wing, so that it appears to "float" detached from the shield border and the left thigh. On the obverse, a tiny die crack runs from the rim beneath the 9 in the date through the 6, the bust tip, through star 13, and beneath star 12. The surfaces are virtually immaculate, and the strike is impeccable on both sides. This piece is sure to whip up spirited bidding. Census: 2 in 66, 1 finer (10/12).(Registry values: N7079) (NGC ID# 23Y9, PCGS# 5615)

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