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    Extremely Rare 1798 Four Berries Quarter Eagle

    1798 $2 1/2 Close Date MS64 NGC. Four Berries, Breen-6116, Bass-3005, R.5. During the 12-year period from 1796 through 1807, encompassing the entire Draped and Capped Bust design, few quarter eagles were produced. Production during this period amounted to less than 20,000 coins. The denomination of choice for gold coinage was the half eagle. In fact, there were more half eagles coined in 1798 than there were quarter eagles for the entire 12 years. In his Complete Encyclopedia, Breen pondered why there were any quarter eagles struck in the first place. In the early days of our Mint, depositors of silver and gold could request the denomination of coins produced from their precious commodity, and half eagles and half dollars were the prevalent choices. Archive records indicate that the Bank of Pennsylvania and the Bank of the United States were the only two depositors to request quarter eagles, and then only on occasion. Survivors today are usually found in grades from XF to Mint State, suggesting that these coins spent most of their lives in bank vaults and failed to circulate, or were simply not released in the first place.
    This variety is placed first in the emission sequence due to its having only four berries on the reverse, as on all 1796 and 1797 reverse dies. 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.
    Although it was rated as Rarity-5 in the Bass Sylloge, this variety is actually at least Rarity-6. It is our belief that this example, which is only slightly lower quality than the fully prooflike Bass coin, is the third finest known of the variety. The Norman Stack Type Collection coin is the only other example that may exceed the present specimen for overall (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.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2006
    6th-7th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 30
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