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    Description

    1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle, BD-2, MS62
    Important One-Year Type
    Unique Design in the U.S. Gold Series

    1796 $2 1/2 No Stars on Obverse, BD-2, R.4, MS62 NGC. Ex: The Paramount Collection. Bass-Dannreuther Die State d/b. The 1796 No Stars quarter eagle is one of the most iconic early gold issues struck at the U.S. Mint. Two varieties are known, created from two reverse dies and a common obverse. Traditionally, the mintage of the No Stars Guide Book type has been placed at 963 coins, a figure that combines the total coins from the first two deliveries of quarter eagles in 1796. Delivery Warrant 74, coined on September 21, 1796 included only 66 coins, while the second delivery of quarter eagles, Warrant 77 on December 8, included 897 pieces. It is generally believed that the stunted 66-coin mintage in September was due to the failure of the BD-1 reverse die. The BD-2 dies were used for all 897 pieces delivered in December and perhaps also a portion of the 432 coins delivered on January 14, 1797. As John Dannreuther writes in Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, "early mintage figures are just educated guesses, as dies were used rather indiscriminately with little regard to their dates, especially in the early years when the dies, many improperly hardened, cracked and became unusable."

    The BD-2 reverse was hardier than the BD-1 reverse, but the No Stars obverse die began to rapidly fail during its usage in December. The die clashed and was then lapped, weakening Liberty's lower hair curls, and a crack developed from the rim at 9 o'clock, curving into the open field. After this, a second clashing occurred, followed by additional lapping by the pressman, which nearly effaced portions of the lower hair curls entirely. Additional cracks developed through LIBERTY and the cap, as well as in the field above the first radial crack. These ultimately led to the retirement of the No Stars obverse die after a recorded coinage of less than 1,000 pieces.

    The 1796 No Stars quarter eagle was immediately popular with collectors when the pursuit of numismatics in the United States began during the early to mid-19th century. The earliest auction catalogs that offered United States gold pieces -- most prominently those of W. Elliot Woodward during the 1860s -- usually listed examples of the No Stars 1796 quarter alongside examples of its With Stars counterpart (BD-3). However, even though the No Stars coin was more available than the 1796 With Stars issue overall, examples that appeared in prominent collections of the period were typically of inferior quality to the With Stars coins in those same collections. An exception may be the "nearly proof" piece offered in Woodward's March 1865 sale. By contrast, Edward Cogan's May 1873 sale included a With Stars coin described as "a beautiful proof," while the No Stars coin in that sale was described as merely "good." These were the earliest indications of just how rare the 1796 No Stars quarter eagle was in attractive Mint State condition. Today, of the 111 No Stars quarter eagles reported by NGC and PCGS combined, only 18 have been certified in Mint State, including likely duplications. As one of the most coveted early U.S. gold type coins in existence, this trivial population is hardly sufficient to satisfy demand. In our recent 2020 FUN Signature an MS63 NGC example realized $300,000.

    This piece displays bright yellow-gold surfaces with subtle reflectivity in the fields. Light handling marks are all that limit the grade, as no singular abrasions are seen. Strike sharpness is excellent in the centers, save perhaps for the base of the eagle's neck. Planchet adjustment marks along the lower right obverse and upper right reverse weaken the border dentils in those areas, as is typical of coins struck during this period. Eye appeal is outstanding.
    From The Paramount Collection.

    Coin Index Numbers: (Variety PCGS# 45501, Base PCGS# 7645)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper


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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2021
    23rd-25th Tuesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
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