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Important 1839-O Classic Head Quarter Eagle
1839-O $2 1/2 MS64 NGC. Low Date, Close Fraction,
Breen-6153, McCloskey-B, R.4. The 1839-O has a mintage of just
17,781 pieces and is noteworthy as the first New Orleans quarter
eagle, as well as the only Classic Head O-mint issue. The facility
coined no half eagles until 1840, by which time the Liberty Head
designs had replaced the Classic Heads. McCloskey-B is the more
difficult of the two known die pairings for the 1839-O, which are
readily distinguished by the spacing of the denomination fraction.
Perhaps McCloskey-B is scarcer because the reverse die shattered
early, with at least eight different die cracks observed. The dies
are rotated 180 degrees from their usual "coin turn" alignment.
MS64, Tied for Finest Certified
Douglas Winter, writing in the second edition of Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint 1839-1909 (2006) noted that: "The 1839-O quarter eagle is a popular one-year type coin featuring the distinctive Classic Head design on the obverse. It is common in all grades up to and including AU55. It becomes scarce in accurately graded AU58 and it is scarce in the lower Uncirculated grades. It becomes quite rare in MS63 although there are probably more examples known in this grade than any other quarter eagle from this mint. In MS64 and above, the 1839-O is very rare."
This conditionally unsurpassed near-Gem displays dazzling mint frost which is considerably more impressive than that seen on the typical example from this issue. The bright yellow-gold coloration is imbued with greenish accents in the fields, and an occasional touch of red-orange occurs near the periphery. There are no relevant marks on either side of this splendid Choice Mint State specimen. This is an immensely difficult coin to find in so fine a grade. It is one of only five so certified at NGC, with none finer (8/09). Interestingly, there are also five certified in MS64 at PCGS (could some be the same coins crossed over?), and Gems are unknown at either service.(Registry values: P3) (NGC ID# 25G7, PCGS# 7701)
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The series of Classic Head quarter eagles issued from 1834 to 1839 includes 28 different individual die varieties. To date nothing has been published regarding each of the varieties. This guide provides identification and photos of the individual varieties with an of rarity for each variety.
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