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    Description

    1797 Quarter Eagle, AU53
    Very Rare BD-1
    Lowest Guide Book Mintage in the Series

    1797 $2 1/2 BD-1, R.6, AU53 NGC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b. The Guide Book reports a mintage of 427 quarter eagles in 1797, while John W. Dannreuther and Harry W. Bass, Jr.'s Early U.S Gold Coin Varieties suggests a figure as high as 585 pieces. The Bass-Dannreuther speculation is that 98 coins delivered on February 28, 1797 may have been dated 1796, while a group of 256 delivered on January 11, 1798 may have been dated 1797. In any case, the mintage was certainly no more than a few hundred. From the original mintage, John Dannreuther estimates 20 to 25 pieces exist.

    Capped Bust quarter eagles and dimes shared reverse dies between 1797 and 1807. The 1792 Mint Act did not require silver and gold coin to be marked with denominations, and the early Mint was no doubt pleased with the economy of reusing dies whenever possible. The reverse die of the present coin was first used on the quarter eagle in 1797 and later on the 1798/7 JR-1 dime, on which a horizontal die crack developed above the eagle's head. The intermixing of a common die across multiple denominations led to interesting consequences, best represented on the 1807 JR-1 dime, where the reverse die exhibits clash marks imparted earlier by the 1807 BD-1 quarter eagle obverse die. Inter-denominational clashing is seen again in 1857, when Flying Eagle cent dies were variously clashed with quarter, half dollar and double eagle dies. These later irregularities were likely deliberate, as other desiderata quietly flowed out of the Mint during this period. The earlier reuse of the quarter eagle and dime reverse dies was completely legitimate, and the reader is referred to The Ed Price Collection of Early Dime and Quarter Eagle Varieties (Heritage, 7/2008) for a thorough explication of the subject.

    The hallmark of the 1797 BD-1 quarter eagle, as seen on the present coin, is the obverse die crack that begins at Y of LIBERTY and passes through stars 12 and 13 before exiting at the rim. This crack is seen on all examples except for a single coin in the terminal state where a large cud has developed from stars 8 to 12. (The 1806/4 BD-1 quarter eagle obverse also deteriorates to a cud, and again, there is only a single known example, held by the Harry J. Bass, Jr. Foundation.) Quarter eagles of 1797 were struck with a single die pair, and the size and depth of the obverse crack invites comparison with other quarter eagles of the same year. There are two such coins in the present sale (an unusual occurrence in itself, as 1797 quarter eagles typically appear at auction only once or twice per year), and it can be seen from the crack that the present coin was the first struck of the two.
    This coin exhibits a series of diagonal marks in the right field between Liberty and stars 11 to 13, and a few digs in Liberty's temple, neck, and cheek. Liberty's cap reveals diagonal marks similar to those seen in the right field. There is a planchet depression at Liberty's bust, likely a strike through, as made. The reverse is largely mark-free, save for a couple small depressions in the field to the right of T in UNITED, and another to the left of the star above M in UNUM. The reverse die state is perfect. Original toning appeals throughout, with shades of russet in the lower portion of the central figure and date.
    From The Liberty USA Collection. (NGC ID# BFVR, Variety PCGS# 45503, Base PCGS# 7648)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


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

    View all of [The Liberty USA Collection ]

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 13
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