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1848 $2 1/2 CAL. AU55 PCGS. CAC....

2011 October 13-16 US Coins Signature Auction- Pittsburgh #1160

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Auction Ended On: Oct 14, 2011
Item Activity: 9 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: David L. Lawrence Convention Center
1000 Ft. Duquesne Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

1848 CAL. Quarter Eagle, AU55
The First U.S. Commemorative Coin
1848 $2 1/2 CAL. AU55 PCGS. CAC. Gold was discovered in California in early 1848, and near the end of the year, the first shipment of the newly mined metal arrived at the Philadelphia Mint, where it was coined into quarter eagles, each marked with the distinctive CAL. counterstamp. Mint records state that 1,389 of those specially marked quarter eagles were struck. Many numismatists consider these 1848 CAL. quarter eagles to be the first U.S. commemorative coins, predating the 1892 Columbian issues by 44 years.
The 1848 CAL. quarter eagle ranks 37th in the third edition of 100 Greatest U.S. Coins, by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth. They write:

Because the 1848 CAL. quarter eagle was a direct result of the California Gold Rush, it is a highly coveted issue. Not only does the coin have a direct link to American history, but also it is one of the rarest regular-issue Liberty Head quarter eagles.

It is often stated that the CAL. counterstamp was punched into the coins while they were still in the press, preventing any flattening on the opposite side of the coin. Minute doubling of the date and lower stars on this piece suggests an alternative. It seems more likely that all 1,389 coins were struck, then they were carefully placed in an obverse die resting on a work bench, where they received the countermark, one coin at a time.
Over the decades since the 1848 CAL. quarter eagles were minted, some individuals have attempted to make counterfeits by punching those letters in regular issue 1848 quarter eagles. Fortunately, nobody has been successful in duplicating the original coins.
This Choice AU example, while showing a few faint hairlines and other light scratches, presents nearly full luster with violet toning in the fields. Hints of mirrored surface remains visible in the protected areas. A splendid example of a coveted issue, this 1848 CAL. quarter eagle offers rarity, quality, and historical importance. Population: 6 in 55, 28 finer (9/11).
From The Baltimore Collection, Part Two.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25HA, PCGS# 7749)

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