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    1796 Capped Bust Left Quarter Eagle, XF45
    First Year of Denomination
    Popular Single-Year, No Stars Type, BD-2

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars on Obverse, BD-2, R.4, XF45 PCGS. Bass-Dannreuther Die State d/b. The year 1796 ranks among the most crucial and important of the fledging Philadelphia Mint. Its first director, David Rittenhouse, died in that city on June 26, at the age of 64, having established and led the institution for about three years before resigning in June 1795 because of ill health. Two famous future numismatic figures were also born during the year -- Col. Mendes I. Cohen and Charles Cushing Wright -- while at the Mint, a treasure trove of one-year rarities was created.

    Equally important to understanding American numismatics in 1796 is the realization that this was the first year that the Mint struck every authorized denomination, including two copper denominations, five silver issues, and the gold quarter eagle, half eagle, and eagle. Many of those issues are today rarities, if not outright keys to their respective series. The 1796 No Stars quarter eagle merits special status as a first-year and one-year type, honors it shares with the 1796 quarter dollar. But while the 1796 quarter is a one-year type because no more were coined until 1804, the quarter eagle saw the addition of stars around the obverse rim on some of the 1796-dated pieces, making both quarter eagle variants one-year types -- the former as the only No Stars issue, the latter as the only quarter eagle with 16 obverse stars.

    The present coin is an attractive Choice XF specimen that shows only light wear on the well-detailed elements. Some design definition is slightly incomplete due to die lapping in areas like the bottom curls. The pleasing antique-gold surfaces show only a few minor abrasions, with a couple of small, Mint-related lint marks, one in the lower right obverse field and the other near the L in LIBERTY. There is also a small planchet flaw beneath the 9 in the date, visible with a loupe. Prooflike reflectivity is evident in sheltered areas, adding to the substantial natural eye appeal of this important early gold type. (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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