1836 $2 1/2 PR64 Cameo PCGS Secure. Breen-6142, Variety-9, R.8 as a Proof. CAC....
1836 Quarter Eagle, PR64 Cameo1836 $2 1/2 PR64 Cameo PCGS Secure. Breen-6142, Variety-9, R.8 as a Proof. CAC. All proof U.S. gold coins from the 1830s are very rare, and only six specimens of the 1836 Classic Head quarter eagle are known in proof format. No record was kept of proof mintages in this era, as the coins were only struck at the behest of some influential party, like Secretary of State John Forsyth, who ordered the famous 1834 proof sets that included the 1804 dollar. The production process is described on page 3 of Dr. Robert Loewinger's book, Proof Gold Coinage of the United States:
Two Known With 1834 Small Head
Ex: Boyd, Pittman
Two Known With 1834 Small Head
Ex: Boyd, Pittman
"Early proof gold was made by using the screw press, polishing pre-existing (Business Strike) dies, burnishing the planchets (coin blanks), and striking the blank at least twice. The quality of these early proof coins varied substantially depending upon the polishing of the dies and blanks, condition of the dies, and number of blows to the blank. Since these early Proof gold coins were made to order and were made by polishing the regular Business Strike dies, several dies could have been utilized to make Proofs of the same year (e.g. the Classic Head Proof 1836 quarter eagle was made with three different dies)."
As Dr. Loewinger noted, the six known 1836 quarter eagle proofs represent three different die varieties, with two coins from each variety. They were presumably produced on three different occasions, to serve three different purposes, but we have no direct information about the strikings. It is certainly possible that more coins were struck from each of these dies, or even from die pairs that have not been identified yet. Whatever the original totals were, they must have been extremely small.
The different die varieties have been noted by catalogers whenever the 1836 appeared at auction in recent years, but it was only in the catalog of the Loewinger Collection (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3104, that the six coins were correctly listed by their respective varieties. Previous descriptions failed to identify the coins correctly, and, at the time of the Loewinger sale, the variety of the present coin had not been officially recognized. This coin and its companion piece were simply called "Unlisted variety" in the Loewinger catalog, but Heritage numismatist Mark Borckardt has adopted the term "Small Head of 1834" to identify this variety, listed as Variety-9 in his work, Classic Head Quarter Eagles, available only on the Heritage website. The distinguishing characteristics of this die pair are listed in the Loewinger lot description in our Permanent Auction Archives at HA.com.
The present coin is an attractive Choice specimen of this rare proof issue, with deeply mirrored yellow-gold surfaces that show profound Cameo contrast with the frosty devices. The dies used to strike this coin were lapped, as seen by the lack of detail on the lower reverse, where the berry stem has been completely effaced. Some softness is noted on the central devices, a characteristic even more pronounced on the other example of this variety. Only minor signs of contact are evident and the eye appeal of this piece is truly extraordinary. Past owners of this coin include famous numismatists like F.C.C. Boyd and John Jay Pittman. We expect another distinguished collector to add his name to the roster below when this lot is called.
The following roster was expanded from earlier work done by David Akers in the Pittman catalog.
Roster of 1836 Proof Quarter Eagles
1. PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC, Small Head of 1834. First seen in the Stone House Coin Shop, per Walter Breen; 68th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2003), lot 2072; Dr. Robert Loewinger Collection (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 3104, realized $253,000.
2. PR64 Cameo PCGS, Small Head of 1834. World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 103; Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 97; John Jay Pittman Collection, Part II (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1720; Lucien M. LaRiviere Collection, Part III (Bowers and Merena, 5/2001), lot 171; the present coin.
3. PR66 Cameo NGC, Head of 1835. Col. E.H.R. Green; Jerome Kern Collection (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 26; Abe Kosoff; 55th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/1990), lot 1674.
4. PR66 Cameo NGC, Head of 1835. A specimen from a complete proof set purchased directly from the Mint, preserved for generations by a Philadelphia-area family; Brian Hendelson; Midwestern collector; Rarities Sale (Bowers and Merena, 7/2002), lot 577.
5. PR66 Deep Cameo, Head of 1837. Smithsonian Institution.
6. PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS, Head of 1837. Seavey Descriptive Catalog (William Strobridge, 6/1873), lot 553; Lorin G. Parmelee, who purchased Seavey's collection intact before the date of the sale; Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1055; Harlan Page Smith; John G. Mills Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman), lot 550; William H. Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 956; John H. Clapp; purchased from the Clapp estate in 1942 by Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr., in a blockbuster sale of the entire Clapp Collection via Stack's; United States Gold Coin Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 103; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Collection, Part III (Bowers and Merena, 5/2000), lot 92; A Gentleman's Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 6/2005), lot 1007, realized $247,250.
From The William D. Plumley Collection.(Registry values: P1) (PCGS# 7712)
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