Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1796 BD-3 Quarter Eagle, MS61
    With Stars Obverse
    Heavy Clash Marks

    1796 $2 1/2 Stars MS61 NGC. BD-3, High R.5. Type coins and gold are at the confluence of two of the most popular collecting areas of American numismatics, yet numismatists who seek to complete sets of one of each major U.S. gold type are met with several "stoppers" at the outset. The 1796 No Stars, 1796 With Stars, and 1808 quarter eagles are each major barriers, and each occupies a slightly different position within the quarter eagle series.

    The 1796 No Stars is a first-year type coin, and the only issue in the quarter eagle series that bears no stars around the obverse perimeter. The 1796 No Stars is also the first issue of the quarter eagle denomination to emanate from the U.S. Mint.

    The 1808 quarter eagle occupies a unique position as the only representative of the Capped Bust, Type One or Large Cap design, one of the new creations of Mint assistant engraver John Reich. Thus the 1808 is clearly a one-year type as well.

    If one asks the question "How many stars?" the truth becomes obvious: The 1796 With Stars is also a one-year type coin -- the only early quarter eagle with the obverse stars arranged eight left and eight right, 16 in all, signifying the addition of Tennessee to the Union on June 1, 1796. This obverse die has a distinctive and unusual star layout, with the stars arranged point to point. Each star has two rays pointing toward the border, and two others pointing to the interior. The orientation appears here and on 1794 silver dollars, but on no other varieties that come to mind.

    Only a single die pairing was used to produce the 1796 With Stars quarter eagles, unsurprising given their tiny mintage. The obverse die was not simply a matter of adding stars to the 1796 No Stars, as Breen and others have pointed out, since LIBERTY and the date are spaced and positioned differently. The different star arrangement above the eagle on the reverse die signifies that neither was it used on the No Stars coins.

    Not only is the 1796 With Stars a one-year type, but it is also considerably rarer grade-for-grade than the 1796 No Stars, which seems to have been kept in higher grades and more quantity overall; perhaps the distinctive No Stars design was responsible for that lower attrition rate. The mintage of the 1796 With Stars in early editions of the Guide Book was put at 66 pieces, but today it is given as 432 coins. Akers wrote in his 1975 and 1988 works that he believed no more than 20-25 survive, but John Dannreuther estimates 40-50 known in his 2006 reference. Many of the surviving examples are "problem children," harshly cleaned, ex-jewelry, quite worn, and so forth, although a few nice high-grade pieces survive, including one Gem NGC-CAC coin that brought slightly more than $1 million in our FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2008), lot 3059. Examples in the lower Mint State grades such as the piece offered here regularly trade in the six-figure range.

    An extraordinary Mint State specimen, this quarter eagle has excessive clash marks, heavier than anything suggested in the Bass-Dannreuther reference. For 1796 With Stars, 1797, and 1798 quarter eagles, the author combines obverse and reverse die states into single descriptions. For most or all other varieties, he separates the obverse and reverse die states. This is a prime example of clashed dies that has to be seen to be believed. Both sides have a few scattered surface marks with brilliant and satiny green-gold luster and strong design definition. This MS61 example is the only NGC specimen at that grade level. The Census Report lists six in MS62 and four in MS63, along with a single MS65 specimen. We believe that the MS62 and MS63 listings include several resubmissions (3/13).(Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# BFVN, PCGS# 7647)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

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

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    Calculate Standard Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information  | NGC Coin Grading Guarantee  |  Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2013
    24th-28th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,158

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Only 2 days left to consign to the 2018 September 5 - 10 Long Beach Expo US Coins Signature Auction - Long Beach!

    Learn about consigning with us

    The coins arrived today. Thank you very much for the special service. You are one of the reasons Heritage is such a great company to work with. Very Special!
    Vero Beach, FL
    View More Testimonials receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source:

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    2018 July 12 - 15 Summer FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Orlando
    REALIZED $6,048,212
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 28 - 29 HKINF World Coins & Ancient Coins Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $3,031,505
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    2018 June 27 - 29 HKINF World Currency Signature Auction - Hong Kong
    REALIZED $1,341,736