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    Lightly Circulated 1808 Quarter Eagle, A Classic Numismatic Rarity

    1808 $2 1/2 XF 40 Rim Filing. "The character of the 'impression emblematic of Liberty' on our coins, does not appear, from any record I have seen, to have been determined by specific instruction from the government; nor has it been settled by any uniform practice here. The journals of the that the head of the President was at first intended as the device for one side of our coins; and that the House of Representatives substituted the words now in the Law. But, neither the journals, nor the brief notices which the papers contain of the debates of that period, give any indication of the precise emblem intended."
    The preceding selection was drawn from a letter that Mint Director Samuel Moore sent to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello on February 14, 1825. Given the myriad forms that Liberty has assumed on our nation's coinage, numismatists may be shocked to learn that even a figure as prominent as Thomas Jefferson could not recall a government order that stipulated her appearance. As a result, Liberty, like the nation that she represented, was a creation of the enterprising men and women who won their freedom from Great Britain at the end of the 18th century. In much the same way that colonists traveled across stormy seas to the New World in pursuit of freedom and fortune, early coin designers reached into the unknown depths of their own imagination to find the motif that best represented their view of America. In the spirit of the new nation, these founding fathers exercised their freedom and created the designs through which future generations of Americans would view their history.
    Among the classic coin designs of 19th century America, John Reich's Capped Bust motif stands out as a perennial favorite among collectors and numismatic scholars alike. Although this representation has gained its widest recognition on the lettered edge half dollars of 1807-1836, Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson also instructed the Bavarian-born engraver to prepare similar dies for the quarter eagle and half eagle. Minted only in 1808, Reich's Capped Bust quarter eagle is perhaps the single most desirable issue of the entire denomination. From the original delivery of 2,710 pieces that emerged from the Philadelphia Mint on February 26, Paul F. Taglione (in his book A Reference to United States Federal Gold Coinage) asserts that extant specimens deserve an R.7 designation. Since the poorly defined rims offered little protection, finding a lightly circulated representation is certainly not a task for the impatient. Save for incompleteness of definition about the lower right obverse and central right reverse periphery, the present example is possessed of noteworthy delineation for the grade. The light abrasions that accompany both sides, as well as the few inconspicuous rim detractions, do not hinder the pleasing overall eye appeal. With yellow-gold coloration throughout, this is an important representative of this legendary quarter eagle whose importance as a defining work of art adequately complements its numismatic rarity.
    From the Joseph J. Abbell Collection of U.S. Gold Coins. (NGC ID# BFVZ, 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
    November, 1999
    18th-20th Thursday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 190
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