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    1796 Quarter Eagle, BD-2, XF40
    Popular No Stars Obverse Variety

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars on Obverse, BD-2, R.4, XF40 NGC. The U.S. Mint struck its first gold coins in 1795, a recorded 8,707 pieces of the five dollar denomination, also called the half eagle, and 5,583 examples of the eagle or ten dollar denomination. Delivery warrants show that the first gold coins minted were 744 half eagles delivered to the Treasury on July 31, 1795, likely of the BD-1 variety, based on the research of Harry W. Bass, Jr. and John Dannreuther. There were a total of 12 documented die marriages used to produce the 1795 Draped Bust, Small Eagle five dollar coins, from a total of 16 obverse and reverse dies.

    For the 1795 ten dollar coins, there are five known die pairings among the six total obverse and reverse dies.

    It was 1796 before the U.S. Mint would strike its third gold denomination, the quarter eagle, although the total recorded production was only 1,395 pieces between the No Stars and With Stars obverses. There were a total of five dies -- three reverse and two obverse -- in three known die pairings used to strike the 1796 No Stars and With Stars quarter eagles.

    The production of a rather small number of 1796 quarter eagles in the second year of overall gold coin production at the Mint would presage a long history of the denomination's status as the red-headed stepchild of U.S. gold coinage. From 1796 through the 1834 With Motto, only 20 different dates appear on the denomination, with none struck at all dated 1799-1801, 1803, and 1809-1820.

    In the first 12 years of the quarter eagle's existence, from 1796 through 1807 inclusive, the Mint would strike only a reported 19,487 pieces with a face value of $48,717.50. In stark contrast, the Mint's production of the 1807 half eagle alone, of the Capped Bust Right and Capped Bust Left varieties, would amount to 84,093 pieces with a face value of $420,465.

    Even though there is an overall dearth of die varieties among the quarter eagles as compared to the much more plentiful half eagles, the 1796 No Stars quarter eagle is a special case. Numismatists from various collecting interests pursue the 1796 No Stars as the first year of the denomination, a low-mintage issue, and a one-year type all rolled into one. This coin represents the popular BD-2 variety with shorter arrows in the eagle's claw. The surviving population of the BD-2 variety probably numbers 100-125 examples in all grades.

    The present coin is a pleasing XF specimen, with light wear on Liberty's hair and cheek and antique gold surfaces that show highlights of yellow and green. The surfaces are lightly abraded and retain traces of original mint luster. Census: 2 in 40, 32 finer (11/14). (NGC ID# 25F2, Variety PCGS# 45501, Base 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
    Jan-Feb, 2015
    29th-1st Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
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