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Evenly Toned Near-Gem 1796 Quarter, B-2
First-Year Type, In Demand at All Grade Levels

1796 25C MS64 PCGS. CAC. B-2, R.3. High 6, the obverse die more frequently seen than the Low 6 B-1, at R.4. In reality, however, neither variety is seen with frequency, although collectors eagerly pounce on examples in any grade when they appear at auction. The 1796 quarters are, of course, the first-year issue of the denomination, and the only representative of the Draped Bust, Small Eagle design. By 1804, when quarters were again struck, the Mint had moved to the Heraldic Eagle reverse design.
Only 6,146 1796-dated quarters were struck, and the vast majority have long since either circulated down to the point of unrecognizability, been melted, or otherwise lost to posterity. The many aficionados of the early Bust quarters know that most high-grade examples surviving today ultimately can be traced back to the hoard of legendary collector Colonel E.H.R. Green. Steve Tompkins writes in Early United States Quarters 1796-1838 that longtime dealer Abe Kosoff remembers seeing a hoard of "nearly 100 uncirculated pieces" that Green had amassed when his collection was dispersed in the 1930s and 1940s. "Kosoff relates seeing this large grouping when they were offered to him by dealer James G. MacAllister, who along with Burdette G. Johnson, liquidated the vast holdings of Colonel Green."
Rory Rea, Dr. Glenn Peterson, Bradley S. Karoleff, and John J. Kovach Jr. make another interesting point in their new series reference:

"As collectors , we can rejoice in the fact that so many uncirculated examples of the 1796 quarter exist, yet at the same time we can also be a bit puzzled. These coins, as was the case for all coinage prior to 1837, were minted for private bullion warrants and were presumably intended for commercial purposes. Furthermore, a quarter dollar represented a sizeable sum in 1796, when a typical workman's wages might be only three dollars a week. Hence, they likely would not be considered mere trinkets to the average man and a considerable 'opportunity cost' occurred if they were not used to purchase necessities. One can only presume that many of these coins were ultimately retained by Legislators and/or Dignitaries as "Souvenirs," by merchants and well-to-do citizens due to their novelty, or that a cache was maintained by a bank for capital requirements (a role more typically assigned to early federal half dollars)."

The present near-Gem is sure to see spirited bidding. The surfaces boast splendid, even sea-green and golden patina throughout both sides. The hair curls are fully struck, but the reverse shows the softness typical of the B-2 on the eagle's breast and head. Population: 5 in 64, 7 finer (11/11).(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
3rd-8th Tuesday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 11
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 1,277

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