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    Description

    Important 1798 BD-1 Four Berries Quarter Eagle, AU55

    1798 $2 1/2 AU55 NGC. CAC. BD-1, R.6. A fully reflective green-gold example with a few light hairlines and minor surface marks. The design elements are bold with a nicely centered strike. Like nearly all of the Ed Price coins, this piece is aesthetically pleasing. The time spent to select just the right coin should prove to pay dividends at the sale.

    Die State.
    A faint crack joins the tops of ER on the otherwise perfect obverse. The reverse is perfect.

    Condition Census.
    Less than 30 examples are known in all grades, and less than 10 in Mint State grades. This Choice AU piece probably ranks among the top dozen examples.

    Appearances.
    Plated in Stack's catalog of the James A. Stack Collection.

    Obverse Die.
    The 1 is close to the hair and the 98 are separated from the bust, with that 8 smaller than the other digits. LIB are on a lower arc line than ERTY, with the L slightly low and TY closely spaced. The stars are arranged with six left and seven right. The two 1798 obverse dies are the only dies of the type with that unusual star arrangement. Stars 1, 6, and 13 are distant from the hair, L, and the drapery. Star 7 is closer to the Y.
    State a. Perfect. State b. Massive die break at the left obverse. See Thomas Melish catalog (Abe Kosoff, 4/1956), lot 1102.

    Reverse Die. The R has a curved tail.
    All letters are distant from the border with the D low and distant from the fifth feather. The A in STATES and O in OF appear smaller than other letters. The upright of the E is above a space between clouds. The left base of the first A in AMERICA is merged with the fourth feather. AM and RI appear to touch, and MER are close. The right base of the M is higher than the left base of the E. The final A is distant from the claw. The branch has four berries with the middle outside berry merged with the leaf point below. Another leaf point is between I and C, touching neither letter. Eleven arrows with the outer arrow point below the left upright of N. Thirteen stars with stars 1 and 2 widely spaced. Star 2 is solidly joined to clouds 3 and 4. Star 12 is high above the scroll and far left of the eagle's beak.
    State a. Perfect.

    Heritage Commentary.
    This variety is placed first in the emission sequence because it has only four berries on the reverse, as on all 1796 and 1797 reverse dies. In his early research, Walter Breen rated it as the more plentiful of two 1798 die marriages, but he later corrected this information in his Complete Encyclopedia.

    1798 Quarter eagles of both varieties were probably produced from four deliveries with a total mintage of 1,094 coins, along with six assay pieces. These were delivered in January, May, and August 1798, and December 1799. Only about 20 to 25 examples of this variety survive today, or about 10% of the January 11 delivery.

    Engraving Note.
    The R in AMERICA on the reverse of this die has a curved tail that actually appears to be punched over a previous straight-tail R. This is the only instance in the entire quarter eagle series from 1796 to 1808 that a curved-tail R appears on either the obverse or reverse. Refer to our engraving notes at the 1798 JR-3 dime for a similar situation in the dime series.

    Consignor Commentary.
    The James A. Stack collection was the first major gold sale I attended after I became seriously interested in quarter eagles. I was awed. The 1797 was the best I have ever held in my hand. I had attended the 1990 sale of the James A. Stack dimes. The 1797 JR-1 dime was also the best I have ever held in my hand. James A. Stack was able to look at them side by side--without any plastic in the way! I wanted to have a James A. Stack coin in the collection and I focused on the 1798 close date for several reasons. The coin has great eye appeal. I needed it. It was likely to sell at a price I could pay. And other than the three 1796 quarter eagles, this is the only variety that does not share the reverse die with a dime. I was fascinated by the common use of reverse dies. I still check the reverse of all 1798 dimes I see--hoping to find one with this reverse.

    Provenance.
    James A. Stack Collection (Stack's, 10/1994), lot 832.
    From The Ed Price Collection.
    (Registry values: P9) (NGC ID# 48CT, PCGS# 97649)

    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 [Ed Price Collection ]

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2008
    30th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 8
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