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1831 Capped Bust Quarter, B-1, PR66
1831 25C Large Letters PR66 NGC. B-1, R.8 as a proof. The
innovative close collar technology was introduced on the quarter
denomination in 1831, resulting in coins with beaded borders and a
reduced diameter. Because there was no change in weight or
composition, the new coins used thicker planchets to compensate for
the smaller diameter. This caused some problems with striking
quality. Chief Engraver William Kneass adjusted the design in many
small ways in order to achieve the best-possible strike, including
removing the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM from the reverse. Four obverse
and five reverse dies were combined to strike the seven known die
varieties of the date. Six varieties were classified as B-1 through
B-6 by Ard Browning in his early series reference and the rare B-7
variety was discovered by later researchers.
Very Rare Early Proof Issue
First Appearance of This Coin
Exactly which dies were used for proof coinage is in some dispute. Walter Breen listed coins of the B-1, B-2, B-4 and B-5 varieties which he believed were proof examples in his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins. Of particular interest to the present description, he noted about the Browning 1 variety, "ANS. One or two others reported, not traced." David Akers challenged Breen's attribution of the four proof varieties in his description of the 1831 proof quarter in lot 1286 of the Pittman catalog, where he stated:
"Although others feel differently, it is my opinion that the only true Proofs of this date are this B-5 variety. Highly prooflike examples exist of other varieties, mostly B-2, and some of these pieces have incorrectly been called Proofs in the past, but they are very different in appearance from the specimens of this variety which have unquestioned Proof status."
Akers provided a roster of the seven B-5 proof quarters he was aware of. Since the time of the Pittman sale, third party grading services have certified a few specimens of the B-4 variety as proofs, as well as the B-5 coins Akers considered true proofs. We believe the present coin is the first example of a B-1 1831 proof quarter to be certified by either of the leading grading services.
Proof 1831 quarters began appearing at auction as early as the Joseph J. Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), where lot 1710 was a four-piece silver proof set described as, "1831 Four pieces, Half, Quarter, Dime and Half Dime; all brilliant, extremely rare." The lot realized $8.50 to J.N.T. Levick. No study of die varieties had been attempted at the time of the Mickley sale, and it is not possible to determine which variety Mickley's coin represented. Although we are not aware of any B-1 proofs that have appeared at auction, we note that recent sales of the 1831 B-5 proof quarter include the spectacular PR66 Cameo NGC specimen in lot 3736 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), which realized $218,500.
The present coin is a fascinating piece that is making its first appearance in an American auction. This magnificent Premium Gem was acquired by a European nobleman during his travels in this country in the mid-19th century. Much like the coins in the famous Lord St. Oswald Collection, this piece has been preserved by the nobleman's family down to the present time. Delicate shades of cerulean-blue and greenish-gold toning blanket the pristine surfaces of this delightful specimen. The design elements are sharply detailed in most areas, but some stars on the left have incomplete centrils. The fields are deeply reflective, but the toning reduces what would otherwise be bold cameo contrast with the frosty design elements. A long reverse die crack extends from the lower leaves through the eagle's wing and the letters of UNITED STATES. Eye appeal is terrific. Nothing is more exciting for the advanced collector than finding a previously unknown specimen of such a rare issue to add to his collection. Series specialists should bid accordingly.
From The Noblesse Collection. (NGC ID# 23SB, PCGS# 5378)
View all of [The Noblesse Collection ]
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