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Description

1796 Quarter Dollar, MS64
The Only Small Eagle Issue
A One-Year Design Type, B-2

1796 25C MS64 NGC. B-2, R.3. In 1796 the Mint produced the first examples of coinage in three new series: silver dimes, silver quarters, and gold quarter eagles. This year is noted for numerous rarities, including the two-year half dollar type of 1796-97 and the quarter eagle varieties. Besides being the first year for quarter coinage (and the last until 1804), 1796 was also the first year that all five silver denominations, from the half dime to the dollar, employed the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design. Examples of the B-2 variety, also sometimes called the High 6 variant, are nearly always found with weakness on the eagle's head, as on the present piece. Star 15 is distant from the bust, and the 6 in the date nearly grazes the buxom portrayal of Liberty.
It seems absurd to call this coin "only" an R.3. Rarity ratings take no account of condition. The "scarce" or R.3 rarity rating comprises coinage issues with surviving populations in the range from 201 to 500 pieces, whether they be Almost Good, Fine, Extremely Fine, AU, or MS64, the grade of the current assigned specimen. So, how many pieces measure up to this lovely example? The current combined NGC and PCGS population data show 14 coins graded MS64, with 12 pieces finer (1/11). While those figures, like all population data, likely include resubmissions, for practical purposes we coin catalogers must factor in the possibility that they just might all be, indeed, different coins. If so, then there are a total of 29 certified 1796 quarters--all of them the more-common B-2 variety--in MS64 and higher. In terms of conditional rarity among the certified population, this "R.3" coin suddenly becomes at least a low R.6 (25-30 pieces known), or "very rare."
In terms of eye appeal, this outstanding coin is even more special. The fields are prooflike and brightly shine through the sometimes streaky gray-russet and deep blue toning, which deepens considerably around the margin. The striking details are especially strong for a B-2, with intricate definition on the hair curls of Liberty. There are virtually no marks on this splendid coin, and the only pedigree identifier worthy of note is a shallow planchet flake out of the obverse field above star 3. An outstanding example of this flashy, high-grade one-year type.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)

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Auction Dates
March, 2011
17th-20th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 9
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