Desirable 1852-O Quarter, MS63
1852-O 25C MS63 PCGS. The 1852-O quarter, from a mintage of
96,000 pieces, is very scarce in all grades. Larry Briggs, in
The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated
Quarters, 1991, assigns the following rarity ratings to the
The Finest Certified
G/VG-R.3+ (approximately 250 or more pieces known);
F/VF-R.4 (approximately 76 to 250 pieces known);
XF/AU-R.6 (approximately 13 to 30 pieces known); and
Unc-R.7+ (approximately 4 or more pieces known).
PCGS and NGC have certified a total of 56 examples in grades from About Good 3 to Mint State 63, with the majority falling within the Very Fine 20 to About Uncirculated 50 grade range. A mere four pieces rate Mint State level of preservation--one MS61 NGC , one MS62 NGC, and a MS62 PCGS, and the MS63 PCGS offering in this sale.
A combination of factors accounts for the rarity of 1852-O quarters. First, the mintage was relatively small. Second, most apparently circulated in the channels of commerce soon after being minted. Third, coin collecting was not yet all that popular in America at the time, thus few coins were saved, especially mintmarked ones. Finally, a large number, perhaps most, were melted.
Walter Breen, in his Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, 1988, elaborates on this last factor:
"After quantities of gold discovered in California 1848-49 began reaching world markets, price levels of gold (reckoned in silver dollars) sank, or what is the same thing, silver bullion prices rose sharply in terms of gold dollars: enough to stimulate mass meltings of silver coins as worth more than face value. The ensuing coin shortage led to reduction in official coin weights in 1853 (the quarter was reduced to 6.22 grams compared to the older quarter's 6.68 grams) and wholesale melting of old-tenor silver, so that many dates 1848-53 No Arrows have become very scarce."
The elusiveness of the 1852-O quarter in high grades is such that many collectors settle for worn, or even problem coins. The Eliasberg piece, for example, graded AU55 Scratched (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997, lot 1452), and the Pittman specimen XF Cleaned (David Akers, 5/1998, lot 1323).
The lustrous surfaces of this Select piece are nearly untoned, except for an occasional blush of light tan-gray, along with a couple of minor "milk" spots on each side. An uneven die alignment causes a typically weak strike on the upper part of Liberty's portrait, the adjacent stars, the left (facing) leg and claws, and fletchings. The remaining design elements are quite bold. A few minute, unobtrusive marks barely keep from an even finer grade. Population: 1 in 63, 0 finer (3/09).
Ex: Frog Run Farm Collection (American Numismatic Rarities, 1/2006), lot 346.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23T9, PCGS# 5420)
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