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    Description

    1807 Draped Bust Quarter, MS67
    Sole Finest Browning-1 Example, CAC Approved
    Ex: Stickney, Clapp, Eliasberg
    Second Auction Appearance Since 1907

    1807 25C B-1, R.2, MS67 PCGS. CAC. Ex: Eliasberg-Simpson. Tompkins Die State 4/2. The year 1807 marked the final quarter dollar production at the U.S. Mint until 1815. During the Mint's infancy, silver coinage was significantly influenced by depositors of silver bullion, particularly banks, which received their deposit back in their preferred denominations. For more than a decade following the suspension of silver dollar coinage in 1804, most silver deposited at the Mint was struck into half dollars. Production of that denomination surpassed 839,000 pieces in 1806, and 301,000 in 1807. During the same years, quarter dollar coinage amounted to a little more than 206,000 and 220,000 pieces, respectively. Spanish silver was prominent in American commerce at the time, particularly the subsidiary denominations of the Spanish dollar. The favorite denomination of depositors at the Mint during those years was the largest silver denomination being struck; from 1795 through 1803, that was the silver dollar, and in later years the half dollar -- never the quarter.

    Quarter dollars that were struck in 1807 and before circulated extensively. Today, the Draped Bust type is scarce even in XF and AU grades, and in Mint State attractive examples are particularly difficult to locate. Type collectors actively seek high-end examples of this type, particular from the 1806 and 1807 dates, which are the most often seen with good eye appeal. However, collectors seeking a type coin from the Condition Census may have to wait years for an opportunity to compete for such a coin at auction.

    The Present Coin
    The Simpson 1807 B-1 quarter is the sole finest Draped Bust, Large Eagle quarter dollar known, not seen publicly since the sale of the Eliasberg Collection in April 1997. Before that, its existence was largely unknown to the numismatic community, as it was tightly held in the Clapp Estate from 1907 to 1942, and then in Eliasberg's holdings thereafter. It is alone atop the Rea-Koenings-Haroutunian Condition Census of the 1807 B-1 variety, with only an NGC MS66 example getting anywhere close in terms of preservation. Tompkins also lists this piece as the finest B-1 specimen known. The NGC Census reports a second MS67 example of the 1807 quarter, unattributed as to its variety, which has never been seen publicly. That piece, if indeed it exists, is not endorsed by CAC. The Eliasberg-Simpson specimen is, and it is alone in that recognition at this level.

    PCGS and NGC combined report only eight examples of the entire Draped Bust, Large Eagle quarter type in grades finer than MS65. Other than the present coin and the NGC MS67 mentioned above, all of these are in the MS66 numeric classification. This piece is the finest 1807 quarter of either the B-1 or B-2 varieties certified at PCGS by a margin of two grade points (6/20).

    Recent auction appearances of Condition Census 1807 quarters are incredibly few. In our October 2011 Pittsburgh Signature, the MS66 NGC B-1 coin realized $115,000, and in our November 2013 sale of the Newman Collection, Part II, the MS66 Star NGC B-2 coin realized $411,250. To our knowledge, no other Condition Census 1807 quarters of either variety have sold at auction in recent times. The present offering of the Eliasberg-Simpson B-1 coin is not only significant for this specific coin, it is significant for the collectors of this conditionally rare early type.

    The first known auction appearance of this coin was in Henry Chapman's June 1907 sale of the Matthew A. Stickney Collection. Stickney was one of the pioneers of U.S. coin collecting in the United States. Beginning his pursuit of numismatics as early as about 1823, he assembled one of the largest and most significant collections of his time, including many major rarities. When sold in 1907, his collection contained three examples of the 1807 Draped Bust quarter: two B-1 coins and a B-2 example. Chapman concisely described the finer of the two B-1 specimens, lot 1126:

    "Small stars, small 0 in date. Extremely fine. Very rare in such preservation. See plate."



    Nine decades later, in April 1997, the coin made its second public auction appearance, in Bowers and Merena's sale of the Eliasberg Collection. The cataloger called it "MS-65 or perhaps finer" in an era of conservative grading. The writer added:

    "Probably the finest known for the variety. Very few early quarters of this design could weather the ravages of time as nicely as the presently offered example. In fact, we would not be surprised if this remarkable early quarter dollar were among the 10 finest examples of the entire 1804-1807 design type."



    The coin is indeed beautifully preserved on a scale that few other early U.S. type coins of any denomination or date can equal. Original mint luster glistens undisturbed in the pristine fields, highlighting natural overlays of peach-gold and delicate lilac-gray toning. Impressively well-struck central devices stand in contrast to softness on the reverse stars above the eagle's head, and most of the reverse dentils are poorly defined. On the obverse, the lower border and stars are well-struck, but the upper dentils blend into the field, and the upper stars are incompletely brought up. Tompkins writes, "[B-1] is very rare or may not exist with fully struck dentils and edge reeds. Examples will exhibit weakness in the obverse dentils across the top from star 6 to star 8." All of these characteristics, though, pale in comparison to the captivating eye appeal and luminance that this remarkable coin yields for the viewer.

    The B-1 obverse die has a distinctive, elongated die lump at the base of Liberty's neck, which is easily seen on this piece. The die is lapped, effacing an array of fine die cracks that characterize an earlier stage of the die's use. The lapping leaves Liberty's lower hair curls weakened, although the heavier lapping that reduces the size of the stars in the later state has not yet occurred.

    The reverse die was previously used for the 1805 B-4 and 1806 B-1 die marriages. Here, it is heavily clashed, with multiple sets of marks evident. Minor peripheral die cracks from previous uses are also evident, especially at the UNI in UNITED and the ST in STATES. There is metal flow around the borders, contributing the weakness of the peripheral dentils.

    Holding this coin in hand, its quality and eye appeal are truly spellbinding. We have seen very few early type coins of any denomination or date that showcase this B-1 quarter's caliber of technical quality. No doubt the fact that this piece spent nine decades of its existence in just two historic private collections is the reason its preservation is so absolute today. Coming into the public eye for the first time in more than 23 years, now with the Simpson pedigree added to its provenance, it is merely waiting for a new generation of the world's greatest collectors to compete for its ownership.
    Ex: Matthew A. Stickney Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1907), lot 1126; John H. Clapp; Clapp Estate to Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. (1942); Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1364.

    Coin Index Numbers: (NGC ID# 23RF, Variety PCGS# 38939, Base PCGS# 5316)

    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 [Important Selections from The Bob R. Simpson Collection, Part II ]

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2020
    19th-22nd Thursday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 25
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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