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1806/5 Quarter Eagle, 7x6 Stars, BD-2
1806/5 $2 1/2 7x6 Stars MS61 NGC. BD-2, High R.5.
Bass-Dannreuther Die State c+/b. The early Capped Bust quarter
eagles -- those struck at the U.S. Mint from 1796 through 1807 --
are, generally speaking, among the most elusive issues from the
crucial first few years at the Philadelphia Mint. Only three of the
11 Guide Book-listed varieties -- the 1802/1, the 1804 14
Star Reverse, and the 1807 -- had mintages that one might say were
well up into the four-digit range.
Mint State Example, Very Rare in Any Grade
The 1806/5 is at the other end of the mintage and rarity spectrum from those three varieties. John Dannreuther believes that "only the 1796 No Stars variety with extended arrows (BD-1), the 1804 13 Stars Reverse coins (BD-1), and the single variety of 1797 [are] definitely tougher than this combination among the Draped Bust coinage." Because of the curious way the coins were produced, numismatists even have a mintage figure for both 1806 overdates -- 1,136 pieces for the 1806/4, 8x5 Stars, and 480 for the 1806/5, 7x6 Stars. Apparently the Mint was running short on die steel in 1806, and it took 1805-dated dies each for the quarter dollar, half dollar, and quarter eagle, softened them, punched a 6 over the 5, and reused them.
Breen writes in the Complete Encyclopedia that "[this was] an emergency measure not again repeated, as the redated dies did not hold up long. Other overdates are normally from dies not earlier used and probably not given initial hardening with their earlier dates ... ." Clearly the same die was used to produce the nonoverdate 1805 quarter eagles, with the same 7x6 Star arrangement and light die crack through field-LIB. The doughty reverse die, however, was used to produce all quarter eagles from 1805 through 1807, plus all 165,000 1807-dated dimes.
This piece is a beautifully lustrous original golden-yellow piece, with the die crack particularly obvious between L and I, and the previous crack from 1805, joining the 805, is still evident, as are the strengthened 180 digits in comparison with the 1805 nonoverdate. A tiny crack between the 1 and 8 in the date may be unrecorded. A few tiny marks in the fields are not overt, and some strike weakness appears at the center reverse in the shield and eagle's neck. No planchet adjustment marks are visible on either side. Census: 2 in 61, 4 finer (6/12).(Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# BFVX, PCGS# 7655)
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