The Pittman-Kaufman 1850 Seated Quarter, PR68
1850 25C PR68 NGC. Ex: Pittman-Kaufman. The former Philip
Kaufman 1850 proof quarter, earlier pedigreed to the John Jay
Pittman Collection, is by far the finest of two or three known
specimens. This delectable NGC-graded PR68 coin outshines a PR65
NGC example and two submissions at the PR62 level, one at NGC, the
other at PCGS. Walter Breen, in his 1989 Proof Encyclopedia,
calls the issue "prohibitively rare" and claims to have seen
records of only two 1850 proof quarters, "aside from those in the
unseen proof sets." Similarly, David Akers writes in the May 1998
catalog of the Pittman Collection:
Akers: 'One of the Highest Quality, Most
Beautiful Coins in the Entire Pittman Collection'
"The 1850 Quarter in Proof is exceedingly rare, even more so than the Proofs of 1847, 1848 and 1849, and it is in the same rarity class as the 1840, 1841 and 1844 Proof Quarters of which only two or three examples of each are known. Just two Proof 1850 Quarters are known with certainty, with possibly a third example also extant, although the third piece ... is not as obvious a Proof as the other two and is open to debate as to its original minting status."
There have been few appearances of 1850 proof quarters at public auction. The roster is based on our research into auction records:
1850 Proof Seated Quarter Roster
A roster rife with possible duplicates shows that there may be only two or three surviving proof 1850 quarters, of which the Pittman-Kaufman coin is by far the finest known
1. PR68 NGC. The present coin. R. Green (5/1949); John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1317; Phil Kaufman Collection / Orlando FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3035, realized $460,000. According to Akers, this piece is probably from the H.P. Smith Collection (Chapman Brothers, 5/1906), lot 820.
2. PR65 NGC. John Dannreuther relates that Paris' Bibliothèque Nationale in 1986 traded a proof 1850 quarter out of a complete 1850 proof set (including gold) for French coins that the institution lacked. In the last appearance of the Pittman-Kaufman coin above with us, we wrote that the set was "reportedly obtained by Alexandre Vattemare from the Philadelphia Mint in 1850." Ed Hipps (1986), displayed at the 1998 FUN convention, according to Akers.
3. PR62 PCGS. Stack's (1/1993), lot 455; Bowers (8/1998), lot 156. Possibly a duplicate of the PR62 NGC-certified example.
A. PR65. Vintage (10/1988). Possibly #2 above.
B. PR63. 1976 CSNS Convention (RARCOA, 4/1976), lot 218; Reed Hawn (Stack's, 3/1977), lot 310; Ellis Robison (Stack's, 2/1982), lot 1318; Heritage (2/1984), lot 956. In 1984, our cataloger identified this coin as the same example that appeared in the J.H. South catalog (Stack's, 2/1951), lot 515. Possibly a duplicate of #3, although Akers notes that he and others "were not entirely convinced of its Proof status."
In addition to the above pieces, Walter Breen mentioned others in his Proof Encyclopedia. Some original "Proof" sets were actually a combination of proofs and business strikes. Breen also mentioned a complete 1850 silver and minor proof set in the collection of H.P. Smith, lot 1240 in the Chapman Brothers sale. That coin has not been identified and is almost certainly one of those listed above. Other sets mentioned by Breen are doubted.
Akers wrote of this coin in part in the Pittman Collection:
"Thin date. Open 5. Superb! The quality and beauty of this coin are so extraordinary that no written description can possibly do it justice. The strike is absolutely full and there is a high wire rim, especially prominent on the obverse in the upper right quadrant. The fields are deep mirrors and there is great proof luster under the superb toning which is a fiery reddish-gold, violet, blue, and gold. There are a few faint lines in the fields under the toning, but these are planchet lines that were present at the time of striking and not hairlines. There are tiny die defects on the upper right side and lower left side of the 0 in the date; these defects are characteristic of Proofs and appear on both indisputable Proof 1850 Quarters I have seen. The John Jay Pittman Collection has so many exceptional Proof coins of great quality and beauty that it is difficult to single out any one coin as the 'most beautiful'; but, if one were to do so, this 1850 Quarter certainly would be one of the leading candidates. ..."
From The Greensboro Collection, Part IV.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 23WD, PCGS# 5544)
View all of [The Greensboro Collection, Part IV ]
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