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Near-Mint State 1798 Quarter Eagle, BD-2
Wide Date, Five Berries Variety

1798 $2 1/2 AU58 PCGS. Breen-6117, BD-2, R.5. Wide Date, Five Berries. The third year of quarter eagle mintage at the U.S. Mint, in 1798, was the first in which the reported total of coins produced (not necessarily all dated 1798, however) exceeded 1,000 pieces--1,094 quarter eagles, to be exact. Bass-Dannreuther estimate that 25 to 30 examples survive of the BD-1, while 45 to 55 pieces exist of the BD-2. Although the Guide Book lists no varieties for the quarter eagle issue, series specialists know that the two die pairings of the year were each monogamous. In other words, neither the obverse nor reverse of either variety is shared with the other.
The BD-1, listed as High R.5, is also known as the Close Date, Four Berries marriage, while the R.5 BD-2 is the Wide Date, Five Berries pairing, as here. The date on the BD-2 is spaced wider, particularly the space between the 1 and 7, than on the BD-1. The 1 in the date is heavier (more deeply punched into the die) than the other digits on the BD-2, and it is noticeably heavier and farther from the hair curl than on the BD-1. Star 7 is farther from the Y in LIBERTY than on the BD-1. Both pairings have an 8 in the date that is noticeably smaller than the other digits. The BD-1 shows the eagle's claw much closer to the U in UNITED, with four berries, while BD-2 has the claw farther away and five berries.
The reverse of this gold quarter eagle denomination was also used to strike some silver dimes dated 1798 and 1800, as our recent auction of the Ed Price Collection demonstrated so memorably. This was another expedient move at the old Mint, again showing that any die that was serviceable would be used in a pinch. Dannreuther notes that this reverse is also the first that uses an "obvious arc pattern" over the eagle, a more aesthetic arrangement.
The fields on this near-Mint State specimen are bright yellow-gold, with considerable reflectivity and much eye appeal. Some moderate adjustment marks appear on the reverse, but otherwise the surfaces show only light contact evidence, consistent with the near-Mint State grade. Another marvelous and rare survivor from the early era of U.S. Mint coinage. Population: 3 in 58, 7 finer (6/10).
From The Dr. and Mrs. Claude Davis Collection.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 25F5, PCGS# 7649)

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Auction Dates
August, 2010
11th-15th Wednesday-Sunday
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