Description

    Important 1797 BD-1 Quarter Eagle, AU55

    1797 $2 1/2 AU55 NGC. BD-1, R.6. Bright greenish-gold surfaces with considerable light yellow luster. The reverse has a thin horizontal line of light orange toning. Insignificant lines and abrasions are noted on the surfaces, with shallow scrapes on the shield. The fields, especially on the reverse, are reflective, representing an early strike from a fresh pair of dies.

    Die State.
    A heavy die crack spans the obverse from the Y in LIBERTY, through or inside the stars on the right, to the border below star 13. No other die defects are evident on either side.

    Condition Census.
    A single Mint State example is known to us, followed by three or four AU coins, including this piece.

    Appearances.
    Plated in the Fairfield and Superior (9/2003) catalogs.

    Obverse Die.
    The 1 is close to the curl, 97 are extremely close, and the right top of the 7 touches the drapery. LIB are on a lower arc line than ERTY. IB are much closer to the cap than the border. The left top of E has a shallow point in place of its serif. 13 stars are arranged with seven left and six right, widely spaced except for stars 3 and 4, and 9 and 10. Star 9 points to a doubled dentil.
    State a. Perfect die, may not exist. State b. A vertical crack starts in the field above the right side of T, through Y, one point of star 8, two inside points of star 12, two outside points of star 13, and the border.

    Reverse Die.
    The legend is widely spaced and close to the border. D is separated from the wing. The top of the E in STATES is nearly joined to the border, and the upright of this letter is over a space between clouds. The left base of the first A in AMERICA is joined to the fourth feather, and this letter is slightly lower than the adjacent M. The final A is close to the stem and claw, touching neither. The branch has four berries with the single inside berry on a short stem. Eight arrows extend to below the left serif of I with an extra detached arrowhead in the field. Stars 4, 5, and 6 are extremely close to the clouds. The six stars left of the eagle's head are more tightly arranged than the rest of the stars.
    State a. Perfect.

    Heritage Commentary.
    This reverse was later used to strike 1798 dimes, JR-1. This and the 1796 With Stars variety are the two rarest dates among all early quarter eagles. Approximately the same quantities of each were struck and they remain about equally rare. Rated R.7 by Walter Breen who suggested that nine examples were known when his New Varieties monograph was published. By the time of publication of his Complete Encyclopedia, Breen had raised his estimate to 20 coins. The actual population is likely in the range of 40 to 50 coins. This equates very closely to 10% of the total struck from February 28, 1797 to June 29, 1797. Aside from five assay pieces recorded for December 30, the June 29 delivery was the last of quarter eagles for the calendar year. Delivery Warrants 82, 83, and 93 accounted for 427 coins struck.

    Consignor Commentary.
    In 1998, I purchased the Byron Reed example--a nice F/VF--from Tony Taraszka. Tony has been a helpful friend over the years, providing insight and encouragement. Although I liked the Reed example, upgrading it was high on Stu Levine's list for several years. Problem-free XF to AU coins were surprisingly difficult to find. We finally found this coin, which is a perfect fit for my collection.

    Provenance.
    J.F. Bell Collection (Stack's, 12/1944), lot 81; Fairfield Sale (10/1977), lot 1437; Superior (9/2003), lot 2833.
    From The Ed Price Collection.
    (Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# BFVR, PCGS# 7648)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


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