Beautiful Mint State 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars MS61 NGC. Breen-1, Breen-6113, Bass-3002, BD-2, R.4. BD Obverse State c/Reverse State b. A one-year type coin; the only No Stars quarter eagle (or early gold or silver coin); the first date of the denomination; a 210-year-old coin with an estimated original mintage of only 963 pieces; the first coin struck with 16 stars to commemorate Tennessee's admission into the Union; the rarest gold type coin; likely the second-rarest type coin, inclusive of all metals--how many other U.S. coins have so many claims to fame and desirability? (Answer: none.)
    Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth's United States Coinage--A Study by Type (2005) says concerning this transcendent type rarity, "The quarter eagle denomination debuted in 1796, and the first type appeared without any stars on the obverse, making it the only 'star-less' early U.S. silver or gold coin. All examples of this type were struck at the Philadelphia Mint, and only in a limited quantity of 963 pieces. This design presents a real challenge to the type collector because of its great rarity. Nevertheless, a surprising number of high-grade circulated examples exist. In fact, it is easier to find a nice About Uncirculated example of this type than it is to find one in Very Fine. In Mint State, this type is virtually unobtainable and extremely expensive. [Emphasis ours.]"
    This BD-2 variety, also known as "Normal Arrows," is the collectible variant of the year. (John Dannreuther, in the new Bass-Dannreuther early U.S. gold reference, pegs the estimated mintage at 897 pieces, subtracting the estimated 66 pieces of the BD-1 "Extended Arrows" variety.) On the reverse the arrowheads end nearly beneath the right upright of the N in UNITED. The D in UNITED is near a wing feather. On the single obverse die, the 1 in the date is bolder than 796, and fairly close to, but not touching, the hair curls. The 6 in the date is jammed up against the bottom of the drapery.
    This piece appears to be in the BD Obverse/Reverse States b/c. Slight traces remain, after lapping, of the previous die crack joining the bottoms of LIBER, here visible as a threadlike connection from B to E and a small remnant connecting the right side of the bottom serif of R with the diagonal stroke. The reverse shows a lumpish die break at the tip of the eagle's right (facing) wing. The BD reference comments, "This popular one-year type coin trades, no matter what the die state, mainly on eye appeal and the absence of problems, whether Mint-caused, circulation related, or jewelry related." If that is so, then the successful bidder on this delightful--and delightfully rare--gold type coin will rejoice. The surfaces are a consistent orange-gold, with considerable reflectivity present on each side, and few mentionable distractions. Scrutiny beneath a lens reveals a few obverse adjustment marks through the hair and cap, and a bit of strike weakness through the center--but no surface distractions or impairments remotely worthy of singling out. A lovely coin, one of the utmost rarity, beauty, and historic importance. Census (as 1796 No Stars): 4 in 61, 5 finer (11/06).(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 Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2007
    3rd-6th Wednesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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