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    Superb Prooflike Gem 1829 Quarter Eagle

    1829 $2 1/2 MS67 PCGS. Breen-1, Breen-6132, Bass-3026, R.4. William Kneass modified the quarter eagle design this year, perhaps specifically to mark introduction of the close collar among coins of this denomination. The diameter of the quarter eagles was reduced slightly, to 18.2 mm., and it was this slight reduction that drove the design modification. Smaller stars were employed on the obverse, and the rims were changed to use a beaded border with a high plain rim, an advancement that protected much of the surface of the coin from wear and nicks. The stars and date were each punched into the die by hand, one at a time, thus exhibit slight variance in their relative position. In the date, for example, the digit 8 is slightly low in relation to the other numerals. The three stars at the top, trapped between the top of Liberty's cap and the border, appear to be slightly closer in relation to each other than the remaining stars. The reverse was similarly modified, especially in the treatment of the border. Individual letters in the statutory legend appear to be entered by hand, again, one at a time. This reverse die was only used in 1829, with further modifications for the 1830 reverse, which remained in use through the end of the series.
    Today these coins, struck from 1829 through 1834, are among the rarest of U.S. coin types. During this period, just over 25,000 coins were struck. Many if not most were melted, some in the year of issue, as their bullion value was higher than their face value. Beginning after the War of 1812, effectively starting in 1815, and continuing until implementation of the Act of June 28, 1834, gold coins were only available at a premium. Thus, the few collectors of those days could not pull examples from circulation, but had to buy them from bullion dealers.
    These were the first quarter eagles struck with the new "close collar" technology. The close collar, sometimes incorrectly called a closed collar, was essentially a ring of steel the same diameter as the finished coin, containing grooves to impart the reeded edge. Planchets were cut minutely smaller than the final diameter, expanding slightly when struck. Mint Director Samuel Moore stated that this technology would furnish mathematical equality to the diameter of struck coins. These early quarter eagles were not in great demand at the time, as the bulk of transactions involved half eagles or half dollars or smaller silver or copper coins. This quarter eagle obviously was set aside at the time of issue and carefully preserved.
    The year 1829 was a time of change within the Mint. It became obvious that the present facility, in use since 1793, was no longer capable of serving the national economy. Moore wrote a letter on December 10, 1828, discussing the problem. He opened his letter with the following summary of the situation: "The inadequacy of the present accommodations of the Mint has become so obvious and the unsightly aspect which the buildings present is so little suitable to its character as a National Institution, that I must ask leave to consult you on the expediency of bringing the subject before Congress. Many members of both Houses have, on visiting us, expressed their surprise and solicitude on the subject, and I persuade myself that a general wish would be evinced to place the Mint on a less discreditable establishment. Unless therefore, the present short session should seem to you an unpropitious period, will you please to take the measures relative therefor, which may seem best." A new site was purchased on April 30, and on July 4, 1829, the cornerstone for a new Mint building was placed in position at the corner of Chestnut and Juniper streets in Philadelphia. The new Mint was finished and ready for use in January 1833.
    All of the early gold coinage struck prior to 1834, including quarter eagles, half eagles, and eagles, is rare and desirable, due to a combination of low mintages and low survival rates. This example is the finest certified 1829 quarter eagle, and it is almost certainly the finest surviving non-proof example from a meager mintage of just 3,403 coins, including a small number of proofs. This 1829 quarter eagle is noteworthy for its exceptionally bright luster and well frosted devices. Most survivors show some degree of prooflike fields, as the same dies were used to coin proofs of this year. This example is remarkable for its deeply mirrored fields and excellent cameo contrast. The strike is generally sharp, with good definition on Liberty's curls and on the eagle's feathers. Even the claws are sharp; the only minor weakness is on the vertical shield lines, which lack some definition.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# BFW7, PCGS# 7669)

    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 Dates
    August, 2006
    13th-14th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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