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    Description

    1796 Quarter Eagle, AU Details
    Popular No Stars, BD-2 Variety
    In-Demand, First-Year Type Issue

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars on Obverse, BD-2, R.4 -- Bent -- PCGS Genuine Secure. AU Details. Bass-Dannreuther Die State c/b. The year 1796 marked the first time the fledgling United States Mint struck examples of all coinage denominations authorized by the Mint Act of 1792, including quarter eagles, quarters, and dimes. A meager mintage of 1,395 1796-dated quarter eagles was accomplished, split between two distinct design types. It is believed that the first two deliveries of quarter eagles (66 coins on September 21 and 897 examples on December 8) represent the famous No Stars type, with no stars on the obverse die. The 432 coins delivered on January 14, 1797 were probably of the 1796 With Stars type.

    Two varieties of 1796 No Stars quarter eagles are known. The two varieties share a common obverse, but the extremely rare BD-1 variety has a reverse die with arrows that extend to the left foot of I in UNITED. This reverse die failed quickly, judging from the die cracks on the four known survivors of this variety, leading researchers to surmise the 66-coin delivery on September 21 consisted of BD-1 quarter eagles, while the 897-coin delivery on December 8 was made up of BD-2 coins, with shorter arrows on the reverse. The present coin represents the BD-2 variety, with a small surviving population of 100-125 examples in all grades. As mentioned above, the obverse die was used previously to strike the BD-1 variety, while this was the only use of the reverse die.

    As the first year of the denomination and a one-year design type, the 1796 No Stars quarter eagle has been popular with collectors since the earliest days of the hobby. Examples were appearing at auction regularly by the mid-1860s. A nice example appeared in lot 1961 of the John F. McCoy Sale (W. Elliot Woodward, 5/1864): "1796 Without stars, uncirculated, a fine impression, extremely rare." The lot sold for $15, a strong price at the time, to Heman Ely, of Elyria, Ohio. The record price realized for a 1796 No Stars quarter eagle is $1,725,000, realized by the magnificent MS65 PCGS specimen in lot 3058 of the FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008).

    The coin offered here is an impressive antique-gold specimen with a barely perceptible bend in the planchet at 3 o'clock on the obverse. Just a touch of wear shows on the well-detailed design elements and the surfaces are lightly abraded, aside from a few scratches in the left obverse field. Some faint planchet adjustment marks show on the eagle's neck and a faint die crack winds into the obverse field from the edge at 9 o'clock. The overall presentation is quite attractive for this iconic early gold issue, despite the noted problems.


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

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    2nd-6th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
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