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Historic 1848 CAL. Quarter Eagle, MS64
'America's First Commemorative Coin'

1848 $2 1/2 CAL. MS64 NGC. The Columbian half dollar of 1892 may be America's first commemorative coinage design, but as for the first commemorative coin, one of the strongest candidates is the low-mintage but high-importance 1848 quarter eagle with CAL. counterstamp. Garrett and Guth (2006) tell the story:

"California's military governor, Colonel R.B. Mason, sent 230 ounces of gold to Secretary of War William L. Marcy. Secretary Marcy, in turn, had the bullion delivered to Philadelphia Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson, who was instructed to use some of the gold for specially marked quarter eagles. A total of 1,389 pieces were produced, all stamped with the abbreviation CAL. on the upper reverse, just above the eagle's head, in commemoration of the important discovery in California."

On this representative, pale yellow-gold surfaces are positively flashy with an undercurrent of green-gold, which is suggestive of the high silver content present in the early California deposits brought back to the eastern U.S. Die polish lines run through the obverse fields, suggesting at least an earnest effort to give the CAL. quarter eagles an attractive appearance. (As noted by Garrett and Guth, coins previously described as "proofs" are actually prooflikes.) The strike is solid if just short of complete, and only a few minor disturbances away from the central devices keep this historic coin from an even finer designation.
From The Henry Miller Collection.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25HA, PCGS# 7749)

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Auction Dates
January, 2011
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 7
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