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    Lovely 1796 BD-2 No Stars Quarter Eagle, MS61

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars MS61 PCGS. CAC. BD-2, R.4. Frosty and lustrous with outstanding honey-gold surfaces that are framed by pale orange toning along the obverse and reverse borders. The surfaces are mostly smooth and free of all but the faintest hairlines and abrasions.

    Die State.
    An obverse crack curves up into the field from the border at 9 o'clock. Another joins the bases of BERT, a third extends from the bottom right corner of the E to the cap, and a fourth extends from the bottom of the L well into the cap. The lower hair strands are mostly complete with only slight evidence of die lapping. The reverse has an intermittent die line from the right (facing) wing through the tops of AMERIC.

    Condition Census.
    Possibly as many as 10 Mint State examples are known, including the present specimen.

    We are unaware of previous appearances in literature or auction catalogs.

    Obverse Die.
    The 6 is upright with the 1, 7, and 9 each leaning right. The 1 is slightly closer to the curl than to the border and it is shorter than the other digits. The 7 and 9 are more closely spaced than other digits. LIBERTY is widely spaced with LI and BE wider then IB. The lower left side of I is slightly recut. ER are on a higher base line than other letters.
    State a. Perfect, does not exist in this marriage. State b. Lightly cracked through the bases of LIBER. State c. Cracked from the border about 9 o'clock, turning upward toward the cap. State d. Lapped with the lowest curls incomplete. The crack of state c continues through the cap to T and Y. The die line from E to R is no longer visible.

    Reverse Die.
    Star 15 is below horizontal to the right of star 8. The legend is well spaced with all letters of UNITED close to the border, and all letters of STATES OF close to the clouds. The left upright of E is over the space between two clouds. AM are widely spaced and the final A is close to the claw and stem but touches neither. The branch has four berries with only one inside. The inner leaf of the lowest outside pair entirely overlaps the stem. The lowest of eight arrows is below the center of the left base of N. The longest arrow is below the outside right edge of the same letter. Stars are evenly spaced in rows of seven, seven, one, and one. Only star 3 touches the left curve of cloud 4.
    State a. Perfect.

    Heritage Commentary.
    Rated High R.6 by Walter Breen in his New Varieties monograph in the late 1960s. Breen recorded the mintage of 1796 quarter eagles as 963 examples without stars, including coins from Warrants 75 and 77, and 432 with stars from the delivery of January 14, 1797, Warrant 80. Since Warrant 79 was dated December 22, 1796, all gold coins minted after that date would have been included in the January 14, 1797 delivery. Breen's estimates seem reasonable; however, supporting documentation has not been located, and probably does not exist.

    Several high grade examples are known including Mint State coins with prooflike surfaces, called presentation pieces by Breen. He further explained that the existence of these high grade coins was the result of many being saved as novelties from the first year of the denomination. At the time, however, setting aside a coin valued at $2.50 was certainly an expensive novelty. Due to striking characteristics, this variety is often overgraded.

    Consignor Commentary.
    I was very pleased when Stu Levine offered me this coin in 2001. I hesitated for a while only because this was the highest priced quarter eagle I had purchased. Then (and now) I believed that it is in or close to the Condition Census. My view is that PCGS was a bit conservative in grading the coin. It is one of several very high quality quarter eagles that I obtained from or through Stu.

    Purchased from Stuart Levine (8/2001).
    From The Ed Price Collection.
    (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.

    View all of [Ed Price Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2008
    30th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
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