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    Near-Mint State 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars AU58 PCGS. Breen-6113, Bass-3002, R.5. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792 authorized the production of Quarter Eagles at the weight of 64.5 grains. While Half Eagle and Eagle production commenced in 1795, the Quarter Eagle, a less favored denomination, had to wait until 1796. The obverse design was similar to that of the 1795 Half Eagle and Eagle, but the stars were omitted from the periphery. The reverse holds two "firsts" in U.S. numismatics. This issue is the first gold coin to display the Heraldic Eagle reverse, and it is also the first coin of any denomination to exhibit 16 stars on the reverse in commemoration of Tennessee's admission to the Union. Only 963 pieces were produced, 66 coins on September 22 and 897 coins on December 8, 1796.
    Unlike early Eagles and Half Eagles (which were intended for international commerce), the first Quarter Eagles produced by the U.S. Mint were largely used in domestic channels. From 1796 through 1808, the Mint delivered only 22,199 coins of this denomination. The demand for these pieces must have been great, since the third federal census in 1810 placed the United States' population at 7.2 million people. What's more, many of the coins that managed to survive the rigors of circulation in late 18th and early 19th century America probably fell victim to the mass meltings of the 1820s and 1830s.
    An attractive example, the surfaces display even green-gold color that yields to light haziness in the left obverse field. The latter feature is due to microscopic roughness in the planchet (as struck), rather than toning or post-production impairments. Most extant 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagles display uneven striking quality, but this coin, although somewhat softly detailed over the right peripheries, is crisply defined over the major features. There are no singularly mentionable distractions and the fields reveal modest reflectivity at certain angles. A lovely survivor of this legendary one-year gold issue. (#7645) (Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# 25F2, PCGS# 7645)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2004
    7th-10th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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