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    1804 Quarter Eagle, 13 Star Reverse, AU50
    Less Than 10 Known

    1804 $2 1/2 13 Stars Reverse, BD-1, High R.6, AU50 NGC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/d. A highlight of the present sale, the 1804 quarter eagle with 13 star reverse is one of the rarest coins in the U.S. gold catalog. The coin was missing in the Eliasberg, Norweb, and Garrett collections, and the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian lacks an example. Harry W. Bass, Jr., who collected multiple examples of many early gold varieties, possessed a single coin. Survival estimates range from 9 to 12 pieces (David Akers) to 12 to 14 pieces (John Dannreuther). We trace nine specimens, and, while a few others may exist, this is nonetheless the most prized Draped Bust quarter eagle. With its own listing in the Guide Book, the present coin emerges from a complete enumeration of the quarter eagle die varieties.

    Although eclipsed in absolute rarity by the 1796 No Stars BD-1 quarter eagle, that variety has only recently been publicized through the avid pursuits of Harry W. Bass, Jr. and others. Conversely, the 13 and 14 star reverses of 1804 are visually distinctive, and, in 1859, Montroville W. Dickeson's American Numismatical Manual recognized two varieties of the 1804 quarter eagle.

    The 1804 BD-1 quarter eagle reverse die, like many in the Draped Bust quarter eagle series, was shared across multiple issues in the quarter eagle and dime series. This reverse die first appears in 1802 and was used to strike the BD-2 quarter eagle and JR-4 dime varieties of that year. The same reverse appears again on the 1804 JR-1 dime. The precise emission sequence currently defies consensus. John Dannreuther believes that the 1804 BD-1 quarter eagle was the last struck, and, assuming the die was in a terminal state, this may explain the rarity of the present coin.

    Roster of the 1804 Quarter Eagle, 13 Star Reverse (BD-1)
    1. AU58 PCGS. Judge T. Gaskill (New Netherlands 48th Sale, 11/1956), lot 184; Stack's (3/1990), lot 629; Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1250; Superior (5/1991), lot 1308; Long Beach Connoisseur Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 343, realized $149,500; The R.M. Phillips Limited Partnership Collection (Heritage, 7/2009), lot 1209, realized $322,000. Reverse pit in field left of I in UNITED.
    2. AU55 NGC. George Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2502; later, Charlotte Mint Museum (Stack's, 3/1979), lot 1672; Auction '85 (RARCOA, 7/1985), lot 349; Auction '89 (David Akers, 7/1989), lot 1359; Michael Keston (Superior, 1/1996), lot 6; The Ed Price Collection of Early Dime and Quarter Eagle Varieties (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1459, realized $322,000. Diagonal line within Liberty's throat exits into right field.
    3. AU50. Julian Leidman (5/1970); Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation. Obverse rim weak at 5 o'clock. It is possible this might be the Cicero specimen from New Netherlands 55th Sale (12/1960), although the stated grade is different.
    4. AU50 NGC. Buddy De Sylva (Superior, 2/1978), lot 644, realized $15,000; Auction '79 (Superior, 7/1979), lot 1659, realized $13,500; the present coin. Small pit below L of LIBERTY.
    5. AU50 PCGS. Charles Neumoyer Collection (Stack's, 5/1960), lot 2352, realized $620; The John Jay Pittman Collection, Part Two (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1715, realized $82,500; ANA Sale of the Millennium (Bowers and Merena, 8/2000), lot 2045, did not sell; FUN Signature Sale (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 3005, realized $92,000; Treasures from the S.S. New York (Stack's, 7/2009), lot 1300, realized $149,500; Chicago ANA (Stack's, 8/2014), lot 11010. Obverse field scratch from stars 2 to 6. Vertical, parallel marks across Liberty's bust.
    6. XF. The Fairfield Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1977), lot 1440, realized $9,250; The "Dallas Bank" Collection (Sotheby's/Stack's, 10/2001), lot 300. Diagonal mark at star 9, extensive obverse adjustment marks.
    7. XF. Amon G. Carter, Jr. Family (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 533. Weak obverse rim, adjustment marks at 2 o'clock. The corresponding point of the reverse exhibits similar weakness.
    8. VF. Clark E. Gilhousen (Superior, 2/1973), lot 102, realized $3,800. Mark in front of Liberty's chin, horizontal lines on either side of star 9.
    9. VF. "Cicero" (New Netherlands 55th Sale, 12/1960), lot 259. Possibly the same as the Bass specimen (#3 above).

    Physical Appearance
    The obverse die is perfect, as on all known examples. There is a pit on the lower portion of Liberty's bust, just inside the rightmost curl. Smaller pits are located above and below the L of LIBERTY, and below star 13. The obverse exhibits a few light scratches, most notably within Liberty's cheek and forehead. Even yellow-gold color presents throughout, with browner shades over the high points. The reverse is similarly toned. The upper portion of the reverse shows a few hairline scratches, the heaviest running from S of STATES to R of AMERICA. Another extends from the highest arrow tip into the lower left field. The leaves immediately to the left of AMERICA are not completely articulated, a marker for this die state. With an exceptionally low population, nearly all examples fall into the Condition Census, with the present coin solidly so.
    From The Liberty USA Collection. (NGC ID# BFVS, Variety PCGS# 45509, Base PCGS# 7651)

    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 Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2015
    7th-12th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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