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    Classic 1826 Quarter Eagle Rarity, AU58 Prooflike

    1826/5 $2 1/2 AU58 Prooflike NGC. Breen-6130, BD-1, High R.5. A classic rarity in a star-studded series, the 1826 is one of the top three quarter eagles struck from 1796 to 1834. According to Mint records, just 760 pieces were minted in 1826, although the actual mintage of quarter eagles bearing that date may have been a little higher.
    The number of survivors is difficult to estimate, although it is probably in the range of 30 to 35 coins, the figure given by John Dannreuther in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, A Study of Die States, 1795-1834. Other estimates range from a handful of pieces to 50 or more. The Heritage Permanent Auction Archives show just 10 previous offerings of the 1826 quarter eagle since 1993. The Smithsonian Institution has two business strikes, MS60 from the Mint Cabinet and AU58 from the Lilly Collection, ex Anderson-Dupont. Two or three pieces have been called proof in the past, although proofs of this date are probably unknown. Highly prooflike pieces such as the present coin exist.
    All of those known today are from a single die pair. The obverse has sometimes been described as an 1826/5 overdate, although that is debatable. Careful examination of the date suggests that it is actually a repunched date, 1826/6. In his monograph on the quarter eagles, Walter Breen wrote that "this does not look at all like an overdate." John Dannreuther recently commented that "many, if not most, researchers now doubt the overdate status of this variety." One premise denying the overdate status is that all known 1825 quarter eagles have small stars on the obverse, while 1826 quarter eagles all have much larger stars. However, there is no denying the rarity of this issue.
    Survivors are rare in all grades, with a combined NGC and PCGS population of just 22 coins, including resubmissions. Only the 1804 13 Stars rarity (13) and the 1834 Capped Bust (18) have lower NGC and PCGS combined populations. The combined average grade of those 22 submissions is 52.7, with 20 of the 22 grading events falling in the AU50 to MS61 grade range. These coins typically circulated for a short period of time before being hoarded because their gold content was worth more than face value.
    Obverse die description: The date is well-spaced with the center of the curl over the left edge of the 6. The date is slightly closer to the bust than to the border, and the final digit leans slightly left. All stars are larger than in previous years. Star 1 is close to the bust and star 6 points to the center of the headband. The border has 96 dentils.
    State a: perfect dies. State b: clashed dies.
    Reverse die description: The reverse is the same die previously used in 1825 for BD-3 and it was used again for 1827 BD-1. The stem of the olive branch is over the right side of the D with its tip over the period following the D. The U and N are slightly low, the A in STATES leans slightly to the right, and the M in AMERICA is larger than the other letters. No letters in the legend touch. The numerator is shorter than the denominator and is titled left. The lowest arrow is connected to the bottom of the C. The border has 96 dentils.
    State a: perfect dies. State b: clashed dies.
    This early die state specimen exhibits fully mirrored fields on both sides, with no clash marks and no evidence of die lapping. The fields have a few insignificant blemishes, useful for pedigree purposes, and in some cases as struck. A trace of rub on the high points and a few minor slide marks on Liberty's cheek are all that separate it from a full Mint State grade. Both sides are brilliant yellow with a hint of green-gold color. A significant early quarter eagle, this 1826 is expected to generate considerable bidding interest before and during the sale.
    Ex: Stack's (2/1968), lot 116.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# BFW5, PCGS# 7665)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2010
    6th-10th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,180

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