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Lot
30202

1796 $2 1/2 Stars AU58 NGC. BD-3, High R.5....

2014 March 20 The Collection of Donald E. Bently - Bently Foundation US Coins Signature Auction - San Francisco #1205

 
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Auction Ended On: Mar 20, 2014
Item Activity: 7 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Bently Reserve
301 Battery Street
San Francisco, CA
94111
Description:
1796 With Stars Quarter Eagle, AU58
BD-3, A Rare and Overlooked First-Year Type
1796 $2 1/2 Stars AU58 NGC. BD-3, High R.5. The 1796 With Stars quarter eagle is the Rodney Dangerfield among the many 1796 coinage varieties; like the rubber-faced comedian, it "gets no respect" compared to other better-known 1796-dated issues. For starters, the 1796 With Stars is a one-year type, the only quarter eagle with 16 stars ringing the obverse. Those stars are proportion equally, eight left and eight right, flanking the centered LIBERTY over the portrait and cap.

By the following year, 1797, the Mint had reverted to a 13-star motif for the obverse to symbolize the Original 13 Colonies before Vermont joined the Union in 1791. (There were occasional lapses from the 13-star design, mostly attributable either to engraver lapses or the reuse of leftover dies.)

Those factors make the 1796 With Stars every bit as much a one-year and first-year type as its No Stars sibling, but the 1796 With Stars gets lumped together with the later With Stars quarter eagle issues, despite the different number of stars. The 1796 With Stars is also measurably rarer than the 1796 No Stars, even if it sees lesser demand. Numismatists today guess at the number produced -- this was an era when the Mint reported pieces produced for the year, not how many of each die were produced -- but the usual answer is 432 coins, corresponding to the Mint delivery warrant dated January 14, 1797. At High R.5, regardless of the number made, it is a rare variety today, one that Bass-Dannreuther estimate survives to the extent of 40 to 50 pieces.

This near-Mint example has only the slightest trace of friction from handling over each side. The lemon-yellow surfaces show a tinge of reddish patina, and each side is remarkably problem-free. The only interruptions on either side are a couple of tiny planchet flaws in the center of the obverse. Census: 5 in 58, 12 finer (2/14).
From the Collection of Donald E. Bently, sold for the benefit of the Bently Foundation.(Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# 25F3, PCGS# 7647)

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