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In-Demand 1796 Bust Quarter, B-2
1796 25C XF45 NGC. B-2, R.3. In 1893 Augustus Heaton
published his seminal pamphlet in mintmarks, enumerating the
various "causes of attractiveness" of the branch mint coinage of
the United States. Many years later (2008), collector and
researcher Steve Tompkins wrote of the appeal of the Bust quarter
series in Early United States Quarters 1796-1838, a
much-needed update to the Browning-Breen series reference.
Choice XF, Popular Collector Grade
In that volume, Tompkins lists the "causes of attractiveness" for the 1796 Draped Bust, Small Eagle quarter:
--It is the only Bust quarter dated in the 1700s;
--It is the first year of the series;
--It has a low mintage;
--It is under pressure from Guide Book variety collectors, date set collectors, and type set collectors as a one-year-only type coin.
The issue was produced to the extent of only 6,146 pieces between the B-1 and B-2 varieties. It is renowned not only as a much-desired one-year type coin, but also as one of the rarest of all U.S. silver type coins. The 1796 Bust quarters are also desirable collectibles, as their 15-star obverse is the product of that interesting niche in Mint history when the numbers of stars were changing as new states joined the Union, and before the Mint settled on 13 stars to stand for the original Thirteen Colonies.
One of the often-heard rumors concerning the 1796 Bust quarters is that famed collector Col. E.H.R. Green owned as many as 200 Mint State examples, half of them prooflike. Ron Guth and Jeff Garrett write, however, in United States Coinage: A Study by Type that "either this is a tantalizing lie or the coins remain hidden, as the 1796 quarter dollar remains quite rare in Mint State."
This is an example of the B-2 obverse die, with the 6 in the date higher than on the B-1 and star 13 farther away from the drapery. The light wear on both sides is in accord with the grade, with the date and all legends plain and the obverse sharper than the reverse. Nevertheless, a wealth of pleasing details remains in Liberty's hair and bodice. The feathers show in the eagle's wings, but the head is characteristically flat. Even gray patina covers both sides, and there are no significant blemishes or adjustment marks visible. An attractive Choice XF example in a popular collector grade.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, PCGS# 5310)
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