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    1804 Quarter Eagle, 13 Stars Reverse, AU55
    Exceedingly Rare BD-1 Variety
    Second Finest Known

    1804 $2 1/2 13 Stars Reverse, BD-1, Low R.7, AU55 PCGS Secure. CAC. Bass-Dannreuther Die State a/c-d. Once in a while the planets align and a coin issue of stunning rarity is created. Such an issue is the 1804 quarter eagle with 13 Star reverse, one with a survival rate either in the high single digits or the very low double digits (our roster below accounts for only eight examples). The year 1804 is magical in American numismatics: While the silver dollars dated 1804 have long been touted as the "King of American Coins," there are far fewer survivors of the 1804 13 Stars quarter eagle than of the 1804 silver dollars, if one includes the Originals and Restrikes. (If one includes only Originals, the number of survivors is, perhaps, identical -- eight of each.)

    Even though numerous numismatic luminaries appear in the roster below -- Amon Carter, John Jay Pittman, Ed Price, Harry Bass, the Pogues -- the extreme rarity of the 1804 13 Stars quarter eagle is such that some of the biggest-name numismatic collections in history have lacked an example. As David Akers pointed out in his cataloging of the Pittman Collection, those collections included those of the Norwebs, Louis E. Eliasberg, and the Garretts -- each lacked an example of this stellar rarity. Even the Smithsonian Institution lacks an example, even though these coins were struck only some three decades before the National Numismatic Collection began to take form.

    Our roster below accounts for only eight separate examples of the 1804 13 Stars quarter eagle, although a couple of other pieces could perhaps turn up someday. The 1804 with 13 Star reverse is the rarest and most in-demand date among early quarter eagles, even if it is less rare than the BD-1 Extended Arrows variety of the 1796 No Stars. The Bass-Dannreuther reference estimates that four to six survive of the 1796 BD-1, versus 12 to 14 of the 1804 13 Star reverse. (We believe the population is at the lower end of estimates.)

    The 1804 date and 13 Star Reverse are in themselves sufficient to peg the attribution, as the only other die variety for the year, the BD-2, shares the obverse but combines it with the 14 Star reverse. Other features of this reverse include the I in AMERICA free from the adjacent leaf and the last A free from the eagle's claw.

    The die states on this piece appears to be intermediate between those described in Bass-Dannreuther. Even though there is clear evidence of die lapping in the form of attenuated, "hollow" leaves on the right side of the olive branch, there is also a clear die crack running from the rim above the eagle's left (facing) wing tip to the first S in STATES. The beginnings of a crack appear below BU(S), running down to the right shield point, and a third crack runs from the right wing tip to the rim. This reverse was used on 1802 JR-4 dimes, 1802 BD-2 quarter eagles, 1804 JR-1 dimes, "more 1804 dimes (JR-1), and finally the last states of this [1804 BD-1] variety," per John Dannreuther.

    On a more macro level, this piece is a singularly beautiful example of early gold, showing prevailing honey-gold color with ample blushes of rose-gold in the fields on both sides. Light wear is confined to the high points. Planchet adjustment marks appear on the obverse rims, most prominent in the areas around 2 o'clock and 6. Some corresponding strike weakness appears around the reverse rim. A thin diagonal scrape runs upward on the reverse from the second trio of vertical stripes into the eagle's left wing, and a smaller diagonal mark is near the upper-right shield corner. A small dig shows in the horizontal stripes above the fourth trio of vertical stripes. Those are the most obvious signs of contact.

    This piece, formerly in the Amon Carter, Jr. Collection, is at a minimum tied for second finest in the Condition Census with the Ed Price coin in the same grade. This piece represents a signal opportunity to obtain the most popular early quarter eagle variety in virtually the finest condition obtainable -- and one with CAC approval. This coin is considerably finer aesthetically and in a higher technical grade than the D. Brent Pogue Collection example, AU53 PCGS (formerly AU55 NGC), which recently brought nearly a half-million dollars in Part One of that sale by Stack's Bowers and Sotheby's.

    1804 BD-1 Quarter Eagle Roster, 13 Star Reverse
    This roster is based on auction appearances in catalogs with sufficient photo quality to allow for plate matching, so it is always possible that a couple of other coins may exist that have long hidden from the limelight of publicity.
    1. AU58 PCGS. Judge T. Gaskill (New Netherlands 48th Sale, 11/1956), lot 184; Stack's (3/1990), lot 629; Auction '90 (Superior, 8/1990), lot 1250; Superior (5/1991), lot 1308; Long Beach Connoisseur Collection (Bowers and Merena, 8/1999), lot 343, as AU55 PCGS, realized $149,500; R.M. Phillips Limited Partnership Collection / Los Angeles Signature (Heritage, 7/2009), lot 1209, as AU58 PCGS, realized $322,000. Pit in left reverse field, left of I in UNITED.
    2. AU55 PCGS. CAC. Amon G. Carter, Jr. Family (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 533. Planchet adjustment marks at 2 and 6 o'clock on the obverse, die lump on third vertical shield stripe on the reverse. The present coin.
    3. AU53 PCGS. George Earle (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 2502; later, Charlotte Mint Museum (Stack's, 3/1979), lot 1672; Auction '85 (RARCOA, 7/1985), lot 349; Auction '89 (David Akers, 7/1989), lot 1359; Michael Keston (Superior, 1/1996), lot 6; Ed Price Collection of Early Dime and Quarter Eagle Varieties / ANA Signature (Heritage, 7/2008), lot 1459, realized $322,000; D. Brent Pogue Collection (Stack's Bowers and Sotheby's, 5/2015), lot 1121, brought $499,375. Diagonal line within Liberty's throat exits into right field.
    4. AU50 PCGS. Charles Neumoyer Collection (Stack's, 5/1960), lot 2352, realized $620; John Jay Pittman Collection, Part Two (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1715, realized $82,500; ANA Sale of the Millennium (Bowers and Merena, 8/2000), lot 2045, did not sell; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2004), lot 3005, realized $92,000; Treasures from the S.S. New York (Stack's, 7/2009), lot 1300, realized $149,500; Chicago ANA (Stack's, 8/2014), lot 11010. Obverse field scratch from stars 2 to 6. Vertical, parallel marks across Liberty's bust.
    5. AU50 NGC. Possibly "Cicero" (New Netherlands 55th Sale, 12/1960), lot 259; Buddy De Sylva (Superior, 2/1978), lot 644, realized $15,000; Auction '79 (Superior, 7/1979), lot 1659, realized $13,500; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 4230, brought $82,250. Small pit below L of LIBERTY.
    6. AU50. Julian Leidman (5/1970); Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation. Obverse rim weak at 5 o'clock.
    7. XF. Fairfield Collection (Bowers and Ruddy, 10/1977), lot 1440, realized $9,250; "Dallas Bank" Collection (Sotheby's/Stack's, 10/2001), lot 300. Diagonal mark at star 9, extensive obverse adjustment marks.
    8. VF. Clark E. Gilhousen (Superior, 2/1973), lot 102, realized $3,800. Mark in front of Liberty's chin, horizontal lines on either side of star 9.
    From The McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold Quarter Eagles.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# BFVS, Variety PCGS# 45509, Base PCGS# 7651)

    Weight: 4.37 grams

    Metal: 91.67% Gold, 8.33% Copper

    View all of [The McCoy Family Collection of U.S. Early Gold Quarter Eagles ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2016
    6th-11th Wednesday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 32
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,025

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    17.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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