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    1796 B-2 Quarter, Sharp MS62
    Wide Dentils, Mostly Prooflike Fields

    1796 25C B-2, R.3, MS62 PCGS Secure. Tompkins Die State 1/1. Half dimes, dimes, half dollars, and dollars all preceded the quarter among circulating silver issues of the new Mint. As such, the quarter denomination was a come-lately addition to the early silver series, and it entirely bypassed the Flowing Hair design, which had already been abandoned by the Mint.

    Instead, Robert Scot's newly designed Draped Bust presentation of Liberty occupies the 1796 quarter's obverse, while Scot's Small Eagle reverse resides on the reverse. No denomination was included in the reverse legend -- without doubt confusing the public, which greeted the new quarters with suspicion. In particular, the quarter closely resembled Draped Bust half dollars of 1796 and 1797, a fact that could have been hugely confusing had not the "1/2" fractional denomination been added to the half dollars.

    Just 6,146 of the new quarters were struck. Possibly some of the production was held back at the Mint given the issue's lukewarm public acceptance. Two die marriages accomplished the small mintage. This sharp, mostly prooflike example is an impressive example of the Browning-2 variety, with 6 high in the date (close to the bust).

    When it last appeared at public auction as part of the The Newport Collection in 1975, the Bowers and Ruddy Galleries cataloger effusively wrote:

    "Well struck, well centered, and with exquisite sharpness of detail (including on the eagle's head on the reverse; an area which is traditionally very, very weak on 1796 quarters). This coin was undoubtedly struck as a special presentation piece, so sharp is its details and so beautiful are its surfaces. The value of this coin is difficult to estimate ..."

    Today, we know a surprising number of high-grade, prooflike 1796 quarters exist. Many of them trace to "Colonel" E.H.R. Green, who had an affinity for the issue and the inexhaustible wealth to acquire multiple examples. Some of the pieces may have come to the Col. Green holdings via Virgil Brand, who also commanded essentially unlimited funds.

    Numismatically, the allure of the 1796 quarter is understandable. It is the sole 1700s-dated representative of the quarter series and the first year of issue, as well as the sole Draped Bust, Small Eagle type.

    The present coin offers excellent eye appeal, with pinpoint obverse sharpness and only brief incompleteness on the eagle's leg, breast, and head. A pale-gold sheen envelopes mirrorlike surfaces that are free of any significant marks or distracting Mint impairments. Some swirling light field lines apparently prompt the assigned PCGS grade.
    Ex: The Newport Collection (Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, 1/1975), lot 253.
    From The Estate of S. Gus and Louise Alexander.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 23RA, Variety PCGS# 38920, Base PCGS# 5310)

    Weight: 6.74 grams

    Metal: 89.24% Silver, 10.76% Copper

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

    View all of [The Estate of S. Gus and Louise Alexander ]

    View Certification Details from PCGS

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    25th-29th Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 39
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,087

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    20% of the successful bid (minimum $19) per lot.

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