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Description

1805 Draped Bust Quarter, XF Details
Scarce B-4 Variety
Previously Unpublished Die State

1805 25C -- Improperly Cleaned -- NGC Details. XF. B-4, Low R.4. This remarkable 1805 Draped Bust quarter displays prominent clash marks on both sides, indicating this piece represents a rare, previously unpublished die state of the scarce B-4 die marriage. The B-4 variety is distinguished by the large reverse stars and the position of 25 in the denomination close to U in UNITED. The large star punch was used throughout 1806 and 1807, indicating this reverse die was probably the last one produced in 1805. Both the Browning/Breen reference and Steve Tompkins' Early United States Quarters 1796-1838 indicate the B-4 marriage is only known with perfect dies. In an extremely unusual circumstance, probably due to a shortage of die steel, the used obverse die was annealed and a 6 was punched over the 5 in the date to create an obverse for use in 1806. While overdating dies was not unusual during this time period, most overdates were made from leftover dies that had not been previously used, as the dies became hardened and brittle with striking. Paired with the same reverse used on the B-4 variety, this overdated obverse was used to strike the B-1 variety of the 1806 quarter. Both standard quarter references suggest the 1806 B-1 quarter is known with perfect dies in its initial die state. We can only conclude the 1805 B-4 dies clashed late in the year, and must have been lapped to remove the clash marks before being overdated for use in 1806. The fact that both the 1805 B-4 and 1806 B-1 varieties are usually seen with weak striking details would camouflage any loss of detail incurred during the lapping.
A new reference on early quarters, Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint 1796-1838, by Rory Rea, Dr. Glenn Peterson, Bradley S. Karoleff, and John J. Kovach, Jr., is now at the printers. Noted early quarter specialist and author Rory Rea was kind enough to let us know this reference does not list clashing on the 1805 B-4 quarter, but does note a few minor die cracks on the reverse. The die cracks are noted on the initial state of 1806 B-1 as well, not perfect dies. About the clashing, Rea states, "Off the top of my head, I don't believe I have seen a clashed example. Not on the Pittman specimen, not on my old AU example, and not on the high grade examples in my data base." We believe this previously unrecorded, clashed die state of the 1805 B-4 quarter must be extremely rare, but further study may bring other examples to light.
The coin offered here shows little actual wear, but displays the typical softness on the central details, especially the shield and reverse star 4. Dramatic clashing is apparent on the obverse, with a cloud and a star clearly impressed in the left obverse field, immediately adjacent to the bust. Other clash marks are observed in the right obverse field before Liberty's face and below the bust. On the reverse, the clash marks show through the stars, beside the eagle's wings, arrows, and wreath. The surfaces exhibit the unnatural brightness usually associated with a previous cleaning, but attractive gold and green toning is returning to the peripheries. Altogether, this coin is an attractive representative of a scarce variety and, to date, possibly unique in this die state.

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Auction Dates
Apr-May, 2011
27th-1st
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 2
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