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1796 B-2 Quarter Dollar, MS67+
The Finest Certified 1796 Quarter
Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint Plate Coin

1796 25C MS67+ NGC. CAC. B-2, R.3. Ex: "Col." E.H.R. Green. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 specified five silver denominations, half dimes, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars. The half dollars and silver dollars first appeared in 1794, the half dimes in 1795 (although dated 1794), and the dimes and quarters in 1796. The two largest denominations were important trade coins and were the most requested denominations of the Bank of the United States. The smaller denominations were added to supply the late 18th century commerce with desperately needed small change.

The Philadelphia Mint coined 5,894 quarter dollars during the second quarter of 1796 with deliveries dated April 9, May 27, and June 14. Another small delivery of 252 coins was dated February 28, 1797. The total of 6,146 coins was accomplished through the use of two obverse dies and one reverse die. Current rarity ratings for the two varieties indicate that as many as 700 examples survive. NGC and PCGS have certified 510 pieces in all grades with an average grade slightly below VF30.

The current standard reference is Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint, 1796-1838, by Rory R. Rea, Dr. Glenn Peterson, Bradley S. Karoleff and John J. Kovach, Jr., published in 2010, and hereinafter identified as Early Quarter Dollars. The authors estimate that 56 to 75 Mint State 1796 quarters survive. That survival estimate is likely quite accurate.

Rumors have circulated for nearly seven decades that there was once a hoard of Mint State 1796 quarters owned by "Col." Green. The size of the hoard, according to the rumors, ranged from nearly 100 coins to 200 coins. The rumors began with Abe Kosoff who reported seeing nearly 100 pieces when Green's collection was dispersed. Those rumors are false, and "Ned" Green never owned any quantity of 1796 quarters. His original inventory survives, and lists exactly six Mint State Draped Bust quarters, most likely a date set including one 1796, and one each of the 1804 through 1807 issues, including the overdate. Green formed an extremely large collection, and never sold anything. Had he been in possession of a hoard of 1796 quarters, they would have appeared in his inventory. Collectors can now bid with confidence, knowing that there is no hidden hoard of Mint State 1796 quarters. The Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society is retaining a Choice Mint State example of the Browning-1 die marriage, plated in Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint, to illustrate the first U.S. quarter dollar.

Eric P. Newman's 1796 B-2 quarter dollar, earlier from the "Col." E.H.R. Green Collection, is a remarkable specimen. The strike is nearly full, showing weakness on a few hair strands at Liberty's forehead, and on the eagle's head and breast. However, the sharpness of this coin equals or exceeds any other example seen. The devices are squared and appear as three-dimensional objects resting on the flat fields, rather than gradually rising out of the fields without distinct boundaries. The edge reeding is crisp and bold, suggesting that a special planchet was chosen for this specimen.

Evidence of double striking is noted on both sides, including many of the obverse dentils, the date, and LIBERTY. The reverse also shows evidence of double striking on many of the legend letters, especially on STATES OF. Fine finishing lines are evident, primarily on the obverse. The strike shows nearly perfect centering, and there is no evidence of adjustment marks to even the slightest degree on this coin. The fields on both sides are fully and deeply mirrored, including evidence of mirrored finish between the dentils.

The die state is early, with a delicate die crack from the border to star 14. That crack is unlisted in the literature, and likely not visible on lower grade coins. A short die line or crack connects the upper points of star 3 into the field. The frequently encountered die cracks at ERTY are not present on this specimen. The reverse shows a delicate crack through the tops of OF that is also unrecorded in the literature. Die state analysis shows that the 1796 B-2 quarters were struck before the B-1 pieces, and this example was one of the earliest strikes from the B-2 die pair. It is one of the first 1796 quarter dollars produced at the Philadelphia Mint. The evidence points to the Newman coin as the finest existing 1796 quarter dollar, and it should be designated as a Specimen strike.

The Newman 1796 quarter ranks as the most beautiful surviving example and exhibits quintessential Wayte Raymond album toning, gorgeous gunmetal-blue at the borders, gradually changing through orange-gold to nearly brilliant silver at the centers. The authors of Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint chose this coin to illustrate the cover of their book. It is also the plate coin for the die marriage on page 8. The present cataloger has been involved with some of the most important collections to appear in the past quarter century, and chooses this 1796 quarter dollar from the Eric P. Newman Collection as the most beautiful American silver coin that exists today.
Ex: "Colonel" E.H.R. Green; Green Estate; Partnership of Eric P. Newman / B.G. Johnson d.b.a. St. Louis Stamp & Coin Co.; Eric P. Newman @ $100.00; Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)

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Auction Dates
November, 2013
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 24
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