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    Marvelous Condition Census 1798 Close Date,
    4 Berries Quarter Eagle, BD-1, MS64

    1798 $2 1/2 Close Date MS64 NGC. Four Berries. Breen-6116, BD-1, High 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 since it has 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. We believe that this marvelous example, which is nearly as fine as the fully prooflike Bass coin, is the third finest known of the variety, or possibly better. The Norman Stack Type Collection coin is the only other example that may exceed the present specimen for overall quality.
    This example is sharply struck in rich greenish yellow-gold with traces of light orange toning on the obverse device. Both sides have fully prooflike fields, similar to the Bass-ANA Museum specimen. The central obverse and central reverse have faint adjustment marks, and a minor planchet flake is visible at ED of UNITED. The design features at the center on each side are weakened due to the adjustment marks, but all other design elements are boldly rendered, including the borders. The coin is well centered, with complete border dentils on both sides.
    At one time, the Four Berries variety was considered more common than its Five Berries counterpart, although that is no longer the case today. Breen explained: "In the 1950s, possibly seven or eight examples from the dies with close date and four berries continually showed up at auctions and in dealers' cases at major conventions. Four are Unc., including the 'Melish': 1102 with the 'fatal' obv. break; a fifth [Bass-ANA] is a prooflike presentation piece. Repeated sightings of these same few coins gave the date briefly a reputation for being overrated in rarity, and this variety was believed the commoner of the two. In recent years these coins have all mysteriously vanished; we have been unable to locate a usable photograph!" This is only the second Four Berries reverse we have offered in our auctions; the other graded AU53 and was offered in our June 2003 Long Beach sale.
    Ex: Bowers and Merena (9/1984), lot 2432; David W. Akers (Auction '89, 7/1989), lot 1358; Chalkley Collection (Superior, 1/1990), lot 4337; Superior (Auction '90, 8/1990), lot 1249; Superior (Chicago Sale, 8/1991), lot 665; Superior (5/1993), lot 1377.(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.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2008
    16th-18th Wednesday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,277

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