1796 Quarter, B-2, Gem Uncirculated
1796 25C MS65 NGC. B-2, R.3. High 6. In 1795, Mint Director
Henry William DeSaussure persuaded well-known portraitist Gilbert
Stuart to create a portrait of Liberty to be used on future
coinage. Stuart's model was Mrs. William Bingham of Philadelphia, a
renowned beauty and the wife of a wealthy banker who also served as
a U.S. senator from 1795 to 1801. Although the new design may be
distinctly more attractive than the Flowing Hair design of Robert
Scot, Stuart was apparently disappointed with the new coins,
according to Walter Breen (1988), resulting in the suppression of
the story of Stuart's involvement with the Mint for many years
thereafter. In fact, Stuart's role in developing the Draped Bust
design of Liberty was only published in 1861.
Toned Prooflike Surfaces
This is the High 6 obverse, with the top of the digit 6 nearly touching the drapery. The other variety of this date, Low 6, B-1, has the digit 6 about centered between the bust and border. Despite the backwards Browning numbering system, the B-2 die pairing was clearly struck first, as can be seen from the greater die wear on the common reverse when paired with the B-1 obverse. The B-2 obverse cracked during production in several stages, advancing in later phases to where three distinct cracks show, at which time the B-1 obverse was apparently taken up to finish the manufacture. (Some numismatists disagree about this premise.)
This example represents an intermediate state of the B-2 die. The obverse has an extremely faint crack from the border, between two dentils, to the top of I in LIBERTY. Another crack from the border to the nearby E is virtually invisible above that letter but noticeable below, continuing into Liberty's hair, to the curl behind her neck, and beyond. With the exception of the eagle's head, breast, and leg feathers, this is a sharply struck example. The fields on both sides are prooflike beneath warm sea-green, magenta, and rose-brown toning. Light adjustment marks are visible on the lower half of the obverse, barely discernible without careful scrutiny.
It is part of the lore and legend of the issue that the collection of the famous Colonel E.H.R. Green contained possibly 200 examples of the 1796 quarter, many of them prooflike and most undoubtedly of the B-2 die marriage. This Gem Mint coin, destined for a fine numismatic cabinet, is near the top of the Condition Census except for a handful of specimens .
Ex: FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2007), lot 903, which realized $172,500.
From The Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 23RA, 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 Joseph C. Thomas Collection, Part Two ]
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