1844 25C PR66 NGC. CAC....
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Among the Rarest Seated Proofs Regardless of
Date or Denomination, Ex: Pittman-Kaufman
Apparently the Sole Available Example
Larry Briggs, in The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters, says of the 1844 quarter that there are "approximately five proofs," and Walter Breen, in the Complete Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, also contends that there are "five proofs traced." He elaborates on them in the 1989 Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins, 1722-1989: (1) "Smithsonian Institution, from Mint." (2) "Ex Dr. Judd cased set." (3) "J.H. South: 507." (4) "LM 6/71:717." (5) One other impaired piece seen years ago, but I have long since lost track of it."
We believe that the estimates by Breen and Briggs are clearly too high. David Akers presents a more complete discussion of the 1844 proof quarter in the Pittman Collection catalog of October 1997:
"This is the rarest silver denomination of the year in Proof with possibly only three examples known; other than the one reportedly in the Smithsonian Institution and the example in the Matthew Stickney original Proof set (Lot 1788 in the 1907 auction of his collection), I have not seen or heard of another. Breen's two other Proofs mentioned in his Encyclopedia are J.H. South: 507 and Lester Merkin 6/71:717, the latter cataloged by Breen himself, but not really a Proof. If the South coin was a legitimate Proof, then there are four known, and, of course, it is always possible others exist. Still, this is one of the greatest rarities among all Liberty Seated Proof coins, comparable to the 1841 Dime and the 1840 and 1841 Quarters."
Aside from the appearances mentioned above, our search of auction records turns up no further examples. We emphasize that in the decades prior to the 1986 advent of third-party grading services, many coins that would today be described as prooflike were listed in catalogs as proofs. Our roster supports the comments made by Akers:
1844 Proof Quarter Roster
1. Proof 66 NGC. The present coin. Numismatic Gallery (4/1948); John Jay Pittman Collection (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 833; Philip Kaufman Collection of Early Seated Proof Sets, Part Two / FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3025, realized $322,000; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2009), lot 3764, brought $299,000; Bay State Collection, Part Two / Los Angeles Signature (Heritage, 8/2009), garnered $276,000.
2. Proof. Smithsonian Institution.
A. Proof. Lester Merkin (6/1971), lot 717.
B. Proof. J.H. South (Stack's, 2/1951), lot 507.
The current Premium Gem proof displays beautiful natural toning with various iridescent colors, including reddish-gold, cobalt-blue, and gold-beige, the palette being slightly deeper on the obverse. The sharp proof strike has created uniformly full definition to every design feature; even the sandal and straps on Liberty's foot exhibit complete separation. The date is level and centered and shows repunching on the upper part of the lower loop of the 8, and on the lower crossbars of the two 4s. There are a number of tiny spikes from the denticles into the field by the 11th, 12th, and 13th stars, along with some faint die polish lines intermixed with a few unobtrusive hairlines in the reverse fields.
The overall technical quality and aesthetic appeal of this spectacular coin validate the CAC green label designation. As previously mentioned, it is not only extremely rare, it is the only one certified and likely the finest known. Since the Smithsonian example will never reach the numismatic marketplace, the present coin may be the only example of the proof 1844 quarter ever available to collectors. Once it has sold, it may be decades before it -- or another specimen, if any are truly available -- appears again at auction.
From The Greensboro Collection, Part IV.(Registry values: P5) (PCGS# 5538)
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