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A Condition Census Example of the Very Rare 1856-D Quarter Eagle, MS61 NGC1856-D $2 1/2 MS61 NGC. Variety 19-M. The only variety of this year.
The 1856-D quarter eagle is among the most numismatically significant issues from this mint. It is the only Dahlonega gold coin ever produced with an original mintage figure of less than 1,000 pieces, and it is the single rarest issue from this mint in terms of the total number known in all grades. It is also an issue that is notorious for being among the most poorly produced United States gold coins of any era.
Virtually every known 1856-D has a flat appearance with a somewhat concave "look." For collectors who are unfamiliar with this issue, most coins, even if they are original, seem cleaned. This makes the 1856-D quarter eagle a difficult issue to accurately grade.
The present example shows a slightly better than average strike. The denticles on both sides are more fully formed than usual, while the wings and the reverse legend are fairly bold as well. On the obverse, there is decided weakness on the curls around the face and below the ear of Liberty. This weakness extends to the center of the reverse, which has a somewhat sunken appearance. The surfaces show some mint-made roughness, and there is a small spot below the eagle's beak. Both sides have a slight amount of luster and are overlaid with lemon-gold hues that are even and consistent.
Of the 874 pieces produced, it seems unlikely that more than 50 examples are known. This includes many unattractive, lower grade pieces. There are around 10 coins known in AU, as well as a few with claims to a Mint State grade. As mentioned above, this is an incredibly difficult issue to grade--a piece that one expert calls MS61 might be regarded by another as AU55.
In the Green Pond Sale, a PCGS MS60 example of this date sold for $69,000, which is apparently a record price for an 1856-D.
The Duke's Creek example is certainly one of the better 1856-D quarter eagles seen and is listed on the most recent Condition Cen(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25J9, PCGS# 7779)
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