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1796 Draped Bust Quarter, B-1, AU58
1796 25C AU58 PCGS. B-1, R.4. Just a trace of friction is
evident on the strongly impressed design elements of this
attractive near-Mint example. Interesting clash marks are evident
on both sides and some faint planchet adjustment marks are barely
visible on the central reverse. The prooflike surfaces show only
minor abrasions, with pale gold and lavender-gray highlights. The
overall presentation is extremely attractive.
First Year of Denomination
Only Issue With the Small Eagle Reverse
Variety: Only two die varieties are known for the 1796 quarter. This coin represents the B-1 variety, with the 6 in the date somewhat distant from the bust. The B-1 is more elusive than its B-2 counterpart, but can be found in most grades with some patience.
Population Data (5/14): PCGS has graded 17 examples in AU58, with 35 finer, while NGC has certified 19 near-Mint specimens, with 36 finer.
Heritage Commentary: The quarter denomination was struck for the first time in 1796, with a small reported mintage of 6,146 pieces. The quarter denomination was not a popular one in the national economy of the late 18th century. It did not seem to fit comfortably in the decimal-based system adopted by the founding fathers, having more in common with the old Spanish system where two reales equaled one fourth of a Spanish milled dollar. Many foreign coins circulated freely in the United States until 1857, and the various fractions of the Spanish milled dollar were widely accepted, making the quarter denomination seem superfluous. After the small mintage in 1796, no quarters were struck until 1804, creating a popular one-year type coin, as the Heraldic Eagle reverse had replaced the Small Eagle motif by that time.
Most 1796 quarters circulated heavily in the early years, but a surprising number exist in relatively high grade today. As often happens with a new issue, these coins were saved as mementos or novelties by the general public, finding their way into advanced collections in later years when numismatics became a popular pursuit. The present coin was undoubtedly preserved in some such fashion, as it has clearly spent little time in the channels of commerce. With its outstanding eye appeal, high technical grade, and profound historic importance, his delightful near-Mint Draped Bust quarter will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to a fine collection or type set.
Provenance: Stack's (10/1995), lot 391.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)
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