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Lovely 1798 BD-2 Five Berries Quarter Eagle, AU58
1798 $2 1/2 AU58 NGC. BD-2, R.5. A gorgeous
honey-brown example with rich orange toning and reflective fields.
Full luster shines through the toning on both sides of this
aesthetically desirable quarter eagle. The surfaces have a few of
the usual scattered marks and hairlines on each side.
Die State. Both dies are perfect with no cracks, clash marks, or lapping.
Condition Census. About a dozen Mint State examples of this variety are known, followed by about 25 to 30 AU examples.
Appearances. Plated in the Auction '87 and Keston catalogs.
Obverse Die. The top of the 8 slightly overlaps the lower edge of the drapery. The digit 9 is close to the bust, but does not quite touch. The 1 is equally distant from the border and hair. In LIBERTY, IB, ER, and TY are more closely spaced than other letters. LI are slightly low and Y is slightly high. Six stars left and seven right, like the other 1798 obverse but unlike any other obverse of the type.
State a. Perfect.
Reverse Die. The branch has five berries. The legend is well spaced and close to the border. UN are slightly low and ED are slight high, with the D leaning right and close to the fourth feather. In STATES, TE lean right and ES are slightly high. A space between clouds is just left of center below the E. The first A joins the third feather and is close to the fourth feather, with the A low and ME nearly touching. A leaf joins the right base of I. The outer arrow is below the right upright of U, and the longest arrow only extends to the left upright of N. Stars 1, 2, 3, and 6 touch clouds with star 4 extremely close. Star 12 touches the scroll and is close to the lower beak.
State a. Perfect.
Heritage Commentary. This reverse was later used to produce dimes, 1798 JR-4 and 1800 JR-1. The BD-2 variety is sometimes cataloged as rare, although it appears in auction more frequently than the other 1798 marriage. Walter Breen stated that he only knew of five examples when his quarter eagle monograph was published in the 1960s. In his New Varieties monograph, Breen described this marriage as extremely rare with eight or nine known, comparable to 1797. By the time of his Complete Encyclopedia, Breen considered this to be the less rare of two varieties.
Today, this variety is considered much more common with an estimate of 80 to 90 survivors, about 10% of the total delivered from May 15, 1798 to December 28, 1799. As this variety is stylistically different from the other, and more closely related to later issues, Breen suggested that these were the examples struck at the end of 1799. However, revised rarity ratings tell a different story.
Consignor Commentary. Diane and I went to Los Angeles for the Keston sale. After lot viewing, I was pretty edgy because I knew that I would have the chance to buy excellent examples of both of the coins I needed to complete the early quarter eagles by variety. The 1798 was a lovely original coin and the 1804 13 Stars was problem-free. We were booked on a red-eye flight that night because I needed to be at a business meeting in New Jersey the next day. This coin was lot #3 and the 1804 13 stars was lot #6. Less than 5 minutes after the auction started we had left the auction room, having purchased both coins. I went downstairs and banged on the door to get Glenn Onishi's [then credit manager for Superior] attention. I gave him a check so that there would be no delay in shipping the coins to me. The flight home was a pleasure.
Provenance. Auction '87 (Superior, 7/1987), lot 1903; Michael Keston Collection (Superior, 1/1996), lot 3.
From The Ed Price Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 25F5, PCGS# 7649)
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