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    Description

    1808 BD-1 Quarter Eagle, MS63
    Coveted One-Year Type
    Sole Second-Finest Example at PCGS

    1808 $2 1/2 BD-1, R.4, MS63 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Simpson. Bass-Dannreuther Die State b. The 1808 quarter is unique in United States coinage not only as a one-year type within the quarter eagle series, but as the scarcest type of any denomination or design. In Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, John Dannreuther writes that, unlike many other early gold issues, the reported mintage of the 1808 quarter (2,710 pieces) is likely accurate. He estimates that 125 to 150 pieces survive in all grades. PCGS provides an identical assessment. The actual survivorship may be near the low end of that range, as PCGS and NGC combined report only 106 submissions in all grades, including possible duplications. Impaired, Details-designated pieces at NGC account for only an additional 16 coins, but the number of impaired PCGS certifications is not confirmed (7/20).

    One die pair was used for the entirety of this issue. Harry W. Bass, Jr.'s notes on the coin in his collection, transcribed by Dannreuther, are fairly brief: "Usual crack from cap through stars right. One year Type, Obv. & Rev." Dannreuther designates the crack from Liberty's cap through the right hand stars as Die State b, and it represents most examples known of this issue. A rare later die state shows an additional crack through the date. Since this is the only use of both dies, one would expect there to be an early, perfect die state, but such a coin has not been seen. The Simpson specimen represents the usual Die State b.

    While a survivorship of 125 to 150 coins would be substantial for most other early gold issues, the 1808 quarter eagle garners considerably more demand than most. Type collectors need this issue, as do date and Guide Book collectors; of course, variety and die state collectors also. Emphasis of most of these collecting pursuits hinges on this issue's status as a one-year type coin. Dannreuther writes:

    "The last quarter eagle to be struck until 1821, this design was the work of the new assistant engraver, John Reich. He 'signed' his dies by adding a tiny notch in the star punch used for star 13. The stars are so small on this type that his signature notch is minute and missed by most numismatists."



    The tiny notch is seen on the the outer point of star 13.

    The present example has long been considered the second finest known of the issue. It is alone in the MS63 grade at PCGS, second to only the Gem Pogue coin. NGC lists four pieces in MS63, three of which have appeared at public auction during that last couple of decades, with none finer. However, the Simpson coin, formerly of the Oliver Jung Collection, has been longer established at this level. It was last seen at public auction in Stack's November 2008 sale of the Keusch, Snow, and Del Zorro Collections, where it garnered $517,500. At the time, that was the highest price ever realized at auction for an 1808 quarter eagle.

    The Pogue MS65 PCGS coin, the only example finer than this piece, was the most recent Condition Census example to appear at auction. In its May 2015 namesake auction by Stack's Bowers, it realized $2.35 million. Prior to that, MS63 NGC examples appeared in our sales in 2012 and 2008, and in a Bowers and Merena sale in 2010. The Simpson specimen has been off of the market for more than a decade. As the sole second finest certified by PCGS, it has no real comparables.

    The coin displays rich orange-gold coloration and mint luster. Although slightly weak on select peripheral stars and the obverse rim, the central devices are sharp throughout, and the reverse dentils are complete. The sharpness is similar to that seen on the Gem Pogue coin, and this piece is noticeably sharper than on the three NGC examples confirmed in the same grade. All these attributes place the Simpson coin on a visual scale that is closer to the Pogue specimen than the NGC coins in its own grade. The numeric designation of MS63 is determined by trivial marks in the fields, but these do not significantly detract. Luster shines in the peripheries and design recesses, and the overall presentation is outstanding. Numerically, this piece is tied for second finest known, but visually, it is arguably the sole second finest known, and it is the finest example of the issue (7/20). An opportunity that early gold specialists will not likely see repeated in the near future.
    Ex: Oliver Jung (American Numismatic Rarities, 7/2004), lot 84; Brooklyn Sale (Stack's, 3/2007), lot 1441; Keusch, et al (Stack's, 11/2008), lot 4176.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 45515, Base PCGS# 7660)

    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
    September, 2020
    17th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 35
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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