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High Grade (MS61) 1796 Quarter--Scarce Low 6 Variety

1796 25C MS61 NGC. Low 6. B-1, R.6. Breen estimates 22-25 pieces are known of this scarcer variety, but surely more are extant than that. Nevertheless, this is a very rare variety of a very scarce year in early U.S. numismatics. The model for this single-year quarter was the same Philadelphia socialite, Mrs. William Bingham, whose portrait was also used on 1795 Draped Bust dollars. The dies were cut by Robert Scot and John Smith Gardner, after designs by Gilbert Stuart and John Eckstein. The previous design on 1794-95 coinage proved unpopular, with Gilbert Stuart remarking facetiously that "Liberty on the other coins has run mad"--speaking specifically of the disheveled hair on earlier coinage. His plan for Liberty's hair was to "bind it up, and thus render her a steady matron."
As is well known in numismatic circles, approximately 200 high grade 1796 quarters were distributed by Abe Kosoff in the New York area in the early 1940s. Any coin without a pre-1940 pedigree is most likely from this hoard. Unlike the more "common" High 6 variant of this date, the Low 6 coins can occasionally be located with strong definition on the eagle's head, as is the case here. In fact, the entire coin is remarkably well defined. The only deterrents to an even higher grade are several adjustment marks in Liberty's hair, and on the reverse another series through the clouds. Additionally, there are several curved strike-throughs on the obverse that appear to be wire or thread that adhered to the die or planchet at the time of striking, thus impressing their shape into the struck coin. The centers are mostly untoned, and on the obverse the periphery is accented with deep cobalt-blue and then lighter blue rings of color. The reverse, on the other hand, has a light, even layer of golden-gray patina. Population: 3 in 61, 23 finer (1/05).
Purchased from Abner Kreisberg Corporation on April 11, 1980 for $26,000.
From The Beverly Hills Collection.(#5310) (Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)

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Auction Dates
February, 2005
23rd-26th Wednesday-Saturday
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