Extremely Rare And Desirable 1854-S Quarter Eagle, A Classic American Rarity1854-S $2 1/2 VF25 NGC. The 1854-S is a historic and important rarity of the first order and a numismatic classic with few peers in terms of absolute rarity and prestige. In the past decade, there have only been five public offerings of this issue, a level of availability that is frankly higher than one would expect with so few known. It is one of the rarest of all gold coins ever issued, with a meager mintage of 246 pieces. Apparently in 1854 the new San Francisco Mint was desperately lacking the parting acids which were used to purify gold bullion. This was quite a problem as most of the native California gold contained impurities that had to be removed to bring the gold up to the standard of .900 fineness, with the balance of the remaining 10% being a mix of copper primarily and silver. These secondary metals greatly increased the strength of the gold planchets. Long reported as 12-15 known, this number may be too high according to the census listed below.
1. Finest Known, PCGS AU-50 The Bass Coin. Ex: F.C.C. Boyd, "World's Greatest Collection;" J. F. Bell Collection (Jacob F. Shapiro, Stack's 12/44); Memorable (J. F. Shapiro, Numismatic Galley 3/48); Adolphe Menjou (Numismatic Galleries, 6/50) lot 1326; New Netherlands # 51 (6/58), lot 837 (not part of the Rio Rancho Sale Superior 10/74 as previously reported, see below) Harry Bass privately in 1974; Harry Bass, Jr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 10/99) lot 472; Superior Elite Sale 1/2004, lot 792 identifiable by a short scratch from the top arrow to the right serif of M.
2. NGC VF35, Ex: Davis-Graves (Stack's, 4/54) lot 826; Rio Rancho (Superior, 10/74); lot 89; Richmond I (David Lawrence Rare Coins, 7/2004) lot 1149 at $86,250. Identifiable by a nick below star 7, and a small dark area above the T of UNITED in the dentils.
3. XF40 Cleaned and Planchet Flaws. Ex: William Cutler Atwater (B. Max Mehl, 6/46); Grant Pierce (Stack's, 5/65), lot 1154; Miles (Stack's, 10/68), lot 166; 1973 ANA Sale (Jess Peters, 8/73), lot 826; 1974 MANA Sale lot 1547; Arthur Lamborn "Fairfield" (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/77), lot 1544; Long Beach Sale (Heritage, 10/95), lot 5527. Identifiable by roughness on the upper left obverse, lower left reverse and a nick over star 13.
4. NGC VF25, the present example. Nick below the 54 of date, scratch in lower left obverse field. Possibly one of those below.
5. Fine/Very Good reverse Samuel W. Wolfson Sale (Stack's, 10/62), lot 165. Moderate wear, no identifying marks seen on the plate, possibly one of those listed below.
6. Fine/VG reverse. Gilhousen (Superior, 2/73), lot 184 and Rio Rancho (Superior, 10/74), lot 90, identifiable by a rough area on the left central obverse.
7. Very Good. Ex: Auction '81 (Paramount, 8/81), lot 1405; Stack's 5/00, lot 1194. Identifiable by a few rim ticks, one between the first two stars, another at the base of the reverse.
8. Very Good/Good. Ex: Elmer Sears, 8/1915; John H. Clapp; Louis Eliasberg (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/82), lot 170. Identifiable by wear and no real surface problems.
9. Very Good/Fine. Ex: Kreisberg / Schulman Sale 2/60, lot 2592 and ANA Sale (New England Rare Coin Galleries, 8/79), lot 82.
10. Obverse VF, Scratched, Shank Removed affecting NITE and AMER on the reverse.
11. Another Ex: Jewelry piece, listed as "loop removed, traces of solder, Texas private collection."
This particular coin shows slightly more detail on the obverse than the reverse. Green-gold color overall, the surfaces show several distinguishing marks. On the obverse, a very thin, jagged scratch runs from below star 3 to just below the chin of Liberty, a shallow planchet flaw is seen to the left of the top of the 1 in the date, another long, shallow depression is located above the bun of Liberty's hair, and a couple of marks are just behind Liberty's neck. On the reverse, an angling scratch is seen from the top left of the U in UNITED to the denticles, and a minor scratch is seen below and another above the eagle's right (facing) wing.
Purchased from Abner Kreisberg Corporation on November 9, 1982 for $24,000.
From The Beverly Hills Collection.(#7773) (Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25J3, PCGS# 7773)
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