Rare 1796 With Stars Quarter Eagle, MS62
1796 $2 1/2 Stars MS62 NGC. Ex: Ed Price Collection. BD-3,
R.5. The obverse die has sixteen stars arranged point to point.
This unusual arrangement is similar to the orientation on 1794
silver dollars but on no other early U.S. coins. The serif of the 1
is very close to the hair curl, the bottom of the 7 almost touches
the right side of a dentil, and the top of the 6 overlaps the
drapery. In LIBERTY, IBE are more closely spaced than other
letters, the L is slightly low, and the Y is high and leans right.
Eight stars to the left and eight to the right. Stars 11, 12, 13,
and 14 are more widely spaced than others. A long triangular dentil
is positioned over the center of the T.
A Seldom-Seen and Overlooked Issue, BD-3
The reverse die shows several prominent die scratches that extend through the tops of TATE with one through the middle of that A. The legend is well-spaced with most letters distant from the border. The lower right curve of the D joins the fourth feather. AT are high, the final S touches a cloud, and the F touches a cloud. The final A is close to the claw and stem, touching neither. The branch has four berries and the top berry is merged with the upper edge of the leaf below R. The lowest of eight arrows is below the space between U and N, and the longest arrow is below the right foot of the left base of N. Sixteen stars appear to have been placed at random. A star at the right has two points merged with the top of the wing. A double dentil is found below the left side of the eagle's tail. A faint die crack connects all stars on the left with LIBE. Short cracks or die lines join stars 3, 5, and 7 to the border. The reverse has a short die crack from the right arm of the first T in STATES to the right base of that letter. Parallel lines through TATE are constant in all die states.
While the No Stars design of 1796 is the higher visibility coin with its one-year type design, the With Stars variant is actually considerably rarer. Less than half as many With Stars were struck as No Stars (432 vs. 963 pieces), and since the With Stars has the same design type as the successive years through 1807, it is an overlooked issue among early quarter eagles. The estimates of the number of survivors range from as few as 20 to 25 coins (Akers) to a high of 30 (Breen). Virtually all are in the VF-XF grade range. Most show central striking weakness, and adjustment marks are prevalent.
Today, most numismatists accept the January 14, 1797 delivery of 432 coins as the striking date for this variety. The current estimated surviving population of each of the first three quarter eagle varieties is almost exactly 10% of the first three deliveries. Either five or six examples of BD-1 are known, nearly 10% of the 66 coins delivered on September 21, 1796. Approximately 90 examples of BD-2 are known, almost exactly 10% of the 897 coins delivered on December 8, 1796. Finally, about 40 examples of this BD-3 die variety are known, about 10% of the 432 coins delivered on January 14, 1797.
This piece shows soft detailing in the center of each side and there are a few light adjustment marks located in the center of the reverse. Struck from a slightly rough planchet; there are tiny planchet flecks out of each side, and pronounced die file marks are seen above and through the tops of S(TATE)S. Rich reddish-orange patina covers each side of this attractive coin with bright, semi prooflike fields apparent (especially so on the reverse).
One of just half a dozen or so known Mint State specimens. This piece was plated in the 1982 Eliasberg catalog, the 1999 Bowers and Merena catalog, and our 2005 FUN catalog.
Ex:Spedding Sale (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1894); J.H. Clapp; Clapp Estate (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1982), lot 80; Long Beach Connoisseur Collection; Bowers and Merena (8/1999), lot 337; Heritage (1/2005), lot 8761; Ed Price Collection (Heritage, 7-8/2008), lot 1452.(Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# BFVN, PCGS# 7647)
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