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Description

Census Level 1798 BD-2 Quarter Eagle, MS62 PCGS
Possibly the Finest Known Example

1798 $2 1/2 MS62 PCGS. CAC. Breen-6117, BD-2, R.5. The Capped Bust quarter eagles with the Heraldic Eagle reverse design were coined from the start of the quarter eagle denomination, beginning with the No Stars obverse design of 1796. Later in the year, stars were added to the obverse and the basic design continued through 1807. However, there are several minor variations on the theme, with differing obverse and reverse star counts and placements.
The 1796 With Stars coins had 16 obverse stars arranged with eight left and eight right, with 16 more stars on the reverse. In 1797 the obverse star count was dropped to 13 with seven left and six right, but the reverse still had 16 stars above the eagle. Both varieties of 1798 quarter eagles had 13 obverse stars with just six placed to the left and seven to the right, and they both had 13 stars on the reverse. The 1802 quarter eagles also had 13 stars on each side, although the obverse stars included just eight to the left and just five to the right. The obverse star placement continued for both varieties of 1804, but one of those had 13 stars on the reverse and the other actually had 14 reverse stars. The 1805 quarter eagles had a more balanced arrangement of seven stars to the left and six to the right on the obverse, with 13 stars on the reverse for all remaining coins through 1807. The obverse arrangement again changed for some of the 1806 coins. The 1806 over 4 overdate coins had the obverse stars arranged with eight left and five right. Finally, the 1806 over 5 overdate pieces and the 1807 quarter eagles again had the seven by six arrangement used in 1805.
The two varieties struck in 1798, both offering the same six by seven star obverse arrangement, had a distinct difference. The BD-1 die combination carries four berries in the branch on the reverse, while BD-2 has five berries in the branch. Once considered the scarcer of those two varieties, the BD-2 is now recognized as being more available, although by a very small margin.
The present specimen, housed in a green-label PCGS holder, is arguably the finest known example of the BD-2 variety. The Ed Price coin that we sold in July 2008 graded just AU58. This specimen, a similarly graded example that we sold in our 2004 FUN auction, and a third MS62 PCGS coin that appeared in the August 1999 Bowers and Merena sale of the Childs Collection are the three finest that we have seen.
This piece has mirrored fields with brilliant yellow surfaces and a touch of coppery orange toning on each side. The strike is bold, in fact much sharper than either of the other two MS62 PCGS examples, with nearly full breast feathers on the eagle. Myriad surface ticks are reflected in the surfaces, but significant marks are minimal. Population: 4 in 62, 1 finer (11/10), for both 1798 varieties.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 25F5, PCGS# 7649)

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Auction Info

Auction Dates
January, 2011
5th-9th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 10
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Page Views: 1,514

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