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    Description

    1798 Wide Date, Five Berries Quarter Eagle, MS61
    BD-2, Likely Condition Census

    1798 $2 1/2 Wide Date, Five Berries, BD-2, R.5, MS61 PCGS Secure. CAC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b/a. The two monogamous die marriages for the 1798 quarter eagles would mark the last production of the denomination during the 18th century, as the next issue would ensue only in 1802. Walter Breen wrote in his Complete Encyclopedia that "between 1803 and 1833, the Mint's major output consisted of cents, half dollars, and half eagles; all other denominations had a kind of poor-relative status--seldom called for, few made, little welcome." Mintages of quarter eagles were sparse for every year, straight through until the introduction of the Classic Head design in 1834. In many years, no quarter eagles were struck at all, including a complete mintage gap that spans 1809 to 1820 inclusive.

    In the years when quarter eagles were struck, many of these low-mintage issues are known from, understandably, only a single die pair. It is surprising that two die pairs are known for the 1798 mintage, a paltry trickle amounting to only a reported 1,094 coins. The Wide Date obverse of the BD-2 is paired -- monogamously, as mentioned -- with the Five Berries reverse, while the Close Date obverse of BD-1 is mated with the Four Berries reverse. (Two die pairs are known because the Close Date obverse developed a terminal die cud in its short life; the reasons the reverse die was discarded are unclear.)

    John Dannreuther estimates that the BD-1 is High R.5 while the BD-2 is "merely" R.5, or "rare." Dannreuther pegs survivors of the BD-2 at 45 to 55 known, but in any case, the present example is among the finest few survivors. PCGS reports two examples (including this piece) of the Wide Date in MS61, and four are finer, all MS62 (10/15).

    A thick, short, vertical die crack in the left obverse field near star 1 is the chief marker for the later die state, although a couple of fine cracks run from the same star up onto the bust. This piece displays full luster and a few minor contact marks that determine the grade.
    From The McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold Quarter Eagles. (NGC ID# 25F5, Variety PCGS# 45505, Base PCGS# 7649)

    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 McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold Quarter Eagles ]

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    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
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