Remarkable Choice 1848 'CAL.' Quarter Eagle1848 $2 1/2 CAL. MS64 NGC. The classic commemorative series of 1892 and later had their roots in a particular event more than 40 years earlier, according to a variety of numismatic scholars. The coins produced, the "CAL." quarter eagles of 1848, were commemoratives in a slightly different sense from the pieces that came later. Rather than bearing a completely different design from circulating pieces (and, in fact, it seems some examples went into circulation, judging from the wear on them), these first pieces coined from California gold had the notation "CAL." stamped into the field above the eagle. The modification may have been simple, but enough correspondence exists between the Mint and various individuals that the commemorative intent of the pieces was clear.
The surfaces of this immensely appealing and Choice quarter eagle are yellow-gold with glints of emerald in the fields and an area of greenish-gold above the eagle's head, a shift in color that would appear on more and more coins as California gold became the Mint's largest source of the metal. Well struck overall, though slight weakness is noted in the centers, and a thin, shallow abrasion is noted to the left of Liberty's lips. The highly lustrous fields are partially prooflike, a trait shared by most of the near-Mint and Mint State examples known today. The FUN sales of 2004 and 2006 saw Heritage offer MS67 and MS68 ★ examples, respectively, of this fascinating issue, and while this piece is not in so lofty a grade as either of those fantastic coins, this Choice representative is the finest Heritage has offered aside from them. Census: 3 in 64, 7 finer (11/06).
Ex: Superior, 2/98, lot 3343; Bowers and Merena's August 1998 roster of high-grade examples prepared by Mark Borckardt links this piece to the Kern specimen, which is Ex: B. Max Mehl, 5/50, lot 37 (described as "Proof"); Stack's, 5/65, lot 1130; Stack's, 10/68, lot 142; Stack's, 11/72, lot 780.(Registry values: P2) (NGC ID# 25HA, PCGS# 7749)
Weight: 4.18 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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