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Spectacular 1872-S Quarter, MS66
The Incomparable Norweb Specimen

1872-S 25C MS66 PCGS. The 1872-S ranks among the most challenging Motto Seated quarters. Larry Briggs, in The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters, offers brief comments on the issue: "Rarest 'S' mint. Rare and very hard to locate in any condition. Most probably melted in 1873 creating a far greater demand than supply." The original production of 83,000 pieces is consistent with the yearly nominal mintages for quarters at San Francisco between 1866 and 1872, the first years for the Motto Above Eagle, No Arrows design variant. Passage of the Act of February 12, 1873, resulted in numerous changes to American coinage, one of which was a slight increase in the weights of the dime, quarter, and half dollar. San Francisco did not issue any old-tenor quarters in that year; in addition, any quarters of previous years still on hand were likely melted and recoined to the new standard. Such melting could explain why the 1872-S is less available today than other issues with lower published mintages.
When this coin sold as part of the second sale of the Norweb Collection in March 1988, the cataloging staff described it as " ... unsurpassed by any other example we have ever seen or heard of." Three years later, Larry Briggs specifically referred to this remarkable coin as the finest known survivor in his Comprehensive Encyclopedia. Just 40 examples of the 1872-S quarter appear in the combined certified populations of NGC and PCGS, with 18 coins graded by the former firm and 22 by the latter. These figures likely include resubmissions and crossovers, further narrowing the pool of unimpaired survivors. Neither NGC nor PCGS has certified an example that is numerically finer than the MS66 designation awarded to this coin. Of the 40 listings in the August PCGS Population Report, 12 are Mint State (with several apparent resubmissions); two are graded MS65, and there is now another MS66 (we believe this represents a crossover at this grade level).
In its aforementioned appearance as part of Norweb II, this coin's description began: "1872-S MS-65. A superb specimen with brilliant surfaces overlaid by delicate lilac toning." More specifically, the obverse offers the appearance of lilac to the unaided eye, while subtle champagne and turquoise shadings are visible under magnification. On the reverse, gold patina prevails, and occasional whispers of peach grace the margins. This coin offers powerful luster and strong definition for the issue, with the central details particularly impressive. The stars above and to the right of Liberty display slight softness, but the effect is minor. The fields of each side show numerous die polish lines; while the obverse displays little (if any) evidence of clash marks, a curving line to the left of IN and a strong, straight line below WE on the ribbon above the eagle correspond exactly to the contours of Liberty on the opposite side. Astonishingly well-preserved, with only trivial and well-hidden flaws on each side. A pair of markers permit easy plate-matching with the Norweb specimen. To the left of Liberty is a faint fingerprint, and a minor planchet flaw at the upper reverse offers a further diagnostic.
When this piece was offered as part of the Stack's sale of the Empire Collection in November 1957, the brief description concluded that it was "[w]orthy of a premium bid." As part of Norweb II, it received even more effusive praise: "Here indeed is a major rarity. ... a memorable Liberty Seated quarter, a piece which, when sold, could probably not be duplicated the morning after for double the price." The eloquence of numismatists can do little more than pay tribute to this amazing piece, but its beauty can speak for itself.
Ex: Empire Collection (Stack's, November 1957), lot 1112; Norweb II (Bowers and Merena, March 1988).
From The Nevada Collection of Seated Quarters.(Registry values: P8) (NGC ID# 23UT, PCGS# 5483)

View all of [The Nevada Collection of Seated Quarters ]

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Auction Dates
September, 2008
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