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Choice AU 1796 Quarter, B-21796 25C AU55 NGC. High 6, B-2, R.3. The 6 in the date nearly touches the bottom of the drapery, and star 15 is twice as far from the bust as it is on the B-1 Low 6 quarter. The T and Y in LIBERTY do not touch on the B-2, although they are close, while they merge on the B-1 variety. On the B-2 the digits of the date are equidistant, while on the B-1 the date is spaced 1 79 6, with the 7 and 9 too close. The tiny mintage of 6,146 pieces appears to have been rather unevenly split between the considerably rarer B-1 and the more-available B-2, both of which share a common reverse. However, the B-2 usually shows weakness on the eagle's head, while the B-1 occasionally shows perfect impressions that lack mentionable weakness.
While the year 1796 is a year replete with rarities in copper, silver, and gold denominations, the 1796 quarter occupies a unique niche as the premier first-year silver coin of that denomination, one that would not be minted again until 1804. Accordingly, while some other coin denominations minted during the year may be technically rarer, both varieties of 1796 quarter are in demand as one-year type coins, and due to their low mintage, both varieties are considered rare.
In both technical and aesthetic terms this is a simply gorgeous piece, with light pinkish-gray patina on the obverse, to which the reverse adds some iridescent steel-blue and green coloration. Considerable mint luster remains under the light patina, and the few adjustment marks through the eagle's head, the O of OF, the wreath nearby, and the lower clouds are not particularly distracting. The eagle's head is typically struck. This fine Choice AU 1796 quarter is destined to form the centerpiece of a fine and memorable collection.
(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)
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