1843 Liberty Quarter Eagle, PR66 Ultra Cameo
1843 $2 1/2 PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. JD-1, High R.7. Ex:
Pittman. Only six proof 1843 Liberty quarter eagles have been
reliably reported over the years and only half that number are
available to collectors today. One coin resides in the National
Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution, forever out
of reach of collectors. Another example was stolen in 2007 and has
never been recovered. A third specimen has not been traced since it
was sold out of the Brand holdings in 1943. Of the remaining three
coins, two were sold in the last few years and are currently held
in strong hands, unlikely to be publicly offered any time soon.
Heritage Auctions is delighted to offer the sixth and finest
example of this early proof rarity in this important lot.
Only Six Examples Traced
The earliest offering of 1843 proof gold we can locate is lot 651 of the Reverend T. Wilkinson Collection (Édouard Frossard, 2/1880), which featured a complete 10-piece proof set of the year:
"1843. Ten, five, two and a half dollars, gold; dollar, half, quarter, dime and half dime, silver; cent and half cent, copper. Fine proof set in velvet-lined morocco case. A present of John Tyler, President of the United States, to his ward, Mrs. Octavia McMurray. Extremely desirable set. 10 pieces."
Although the coin offered here is not the quarter eagle from this proof set, which later passed to Virgil Brand and has not been traced since 1943, it does have a remarkable connection with this set. We can only trace the history of this coin back to 1939, when Maryland dealer John Zug sold it to prominent collector F.C.C. Boyd, along with proof specimens of the 1843 half eagle and eagle. These three gold coins later passed through the important collections of Jacob Shapiro (aka J.F. Bell) and John Jay Pittman, remaining together through the years. Pittman purchased the three gold pieces at the sale of the Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948). A few months later, he acquired the silver and copper coins and the original box from the 1843 proof set that had been sold in Frossard's 1880 sale. He combined the gold coins with the silver and minor proofs to reconstitute the complete 1843 proof set. This 1843 proof quarter eagle has accompanied the box and the other proof gold issues ever since. The eagle, half eagle, and box are offered in individual lots in their respective sections of this catalog.
The present coin is a spectacular Premium Gem proof, with sharply detailed design elements and deeply reflective fields that contrast dramatically with the richly frosted devices. A partial wire rim is especially evident on the reverse. The well-preserved lemon-yellow surfaces show only a few faint hairlines in the field, above Liberty's head. Otherwise, no post-striking flaws are detected, even on close inspection with a loupe. Several tiny lint marks are scattered about, including one in the field between star 2 and the bust, a short one from star 6 to the dentils, and another above the eagle's left (facing) wing on the reverse. A minor planchet flake is seen near star 3. Overall eye appeal is terrific for this extremely rare early gold proof. This coin has not been publicly offered since the Pittman sale, 22 years ago. It is the finest of only three available 1843 proof quarter eagles, making this lot an important opportunity for the proof gold specialist. Census: 1 in 66 Ultra Cameo, 0 finer (6/19).
Roster of 1843 Proof Quarter Eagles
Pedigrees for the 1843 gold proofs are notoriously difficult to compile and earlier researchers, like David Akers and John Dannreuther, did not have access to many resources on the Newman Portal today, like the Armin Brand notebooks. Thanks to John Dannreuther, Ron Guth, and Saul Teichman for their help preparing this roster. Grades are per the last auction appearance, unless a subsequent certification event is known. It is virtually certain that some coins have been submitted, or resubmitted, to the grading services since their last public offering. Grade of the Smithsonian specimen is per Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth.
1. PR66 Ultra Cameo NGC. Possibly John Zug; sold to F.C.C. Boyd in 1939, per David Akers; World's Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 1/1946), lot 110 (a proof 1843 half eagle and eagle were also offered in separate lots in this auction, and in the two following sales); J.F. Bell (Jacob Shapiro); possibly 39th Mail Bid Sale (Hollinbeck-Kagin, 11/1946), lot 2245 (not sold); Memorable Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1948), lot 103; John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part I (David Akers, 10/1997), lot 832, as part of a complete copper, silver, and gold proof set; Sil DiGenova and Mike Storeim; Ken Goldman (KGI) and Mark Yaffe (NGE); Blanchard & Co.; the three gold coins were reportedly sold by Blanchard & Company in a private treaty transaction in May of 2009 for $937,765; Joan Zieg Steinbrenner; the present coin.
Note on the reassembled 1843 proof set: William Woodin owned a complete 1843 ten-piece copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original case after he bought Peter Mougey's collection in 1908. He split the set, selling the silver and copper coins, with the case, along with most of the rest of Mougey's collection, through Thomas Elder in 1910. He later sold the quarter eagle and eagle in the 1911 sale of his own gold collection, also through Elder, but retained the proof half eagle until later, and exhibited it at the 1914 ANS Exhibition. Woodin sold most of his half eagles (probably including the proof 1843) to Waldo Newcomer circa 1924. That coin probably went to "Colonel" Green, and was not included in the reassembled set. The quarter eagle went to Virgil Brand in 1911 and remained in the Brand Estate until it was sold by Armin Brand in 1943. We have not been able to trace it since. Likewise, the eagle from the original set went to Brand in 1911 and later went to Harry Bass. Someone, probably John Zug, reassembled the three-piece gold proof set before 1946, as F.C.C. Boyd had all three coins in his collection by that date, but none of the coins were from the original set. John Jay Pittman purchased the three gold proofs at the sale of the Memorable Collection, and united them with the silver and copper proofs of that date, which he purchased a few months later from Judge Joseph F. Sawicki, to reconstitute the complete 1843 proof set in the original case.
2. PR65 Deep Cameo PCGS. CAC. Possibly the example that surfaced in a Connecticut estate sale in 2002 and sold by Nadeau Auctions for $66,125; Spectrum Numismatics; this coin was certified by PCGS on 1/16/2002 (thanks to Ron Guth for this information); John Albanese, purchased privately for $85,000; purchased by a private collector in 2004, via Al Pinkall; ANA Signature (Heritage, 8/2017), lot 4096, realized $211,500.
3. PR63 Cameo NGC. Possibly Jerome Kern; Golden Jubilee Sale (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 32; Mid-Western coin dealer; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 1/2015), lot 3245, realized $70,500.
4. PR63 Cameo PCGS. A coin in the complete copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original yellow Morocco case reportedly presented by President Tyler in 1843 to an unnamed constituent; Fernand David Collection (Jacques Schulman, 3/1930), lot 112; purchased by an agent of B. Max Mehl at the Schulman sale in Amsterdam; Frank Stoddard; "Colonel" E.H.R. Green in 1932, via Mehl; Green Estate; B.G. Johnson; the set was offered to Ruth Green on 6/23/1943 for $1,000, returned; offered again to B. Max Mehl on 8/30/1944 for $1,000, returned; F.C.C. Boyd; purchased by B. Max Mehl; Will W. Neil; Neil Collection (Mehl, 6/1947), lot 2292; Amon Carter, Sr.; Amon Carter, Jr.; Carter Family Collection (Stack's, 1/1984), lot 630; Daniel Drykerman (per Walter Breen); Chris Napolitano; private collector; the set was stolen at the 2007 FUN convention and has not reappeared.
Note: Walter Breen incorrectly identified this set as the one in a "New York State private collection," meaning John Jay Pittman, but Pittman never owned this set.
5. PR65 Cameo. Mint Cabinet; National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution.
6. Proof. A coin in the complete copper, silver, and gold proof set in the original red Morocco case reportedly presented by President Tyler in 1843 to his ward, Mrs. Octavia McMurray (per Frossard); Reverend T. Wilkinson Collection (Édouard Frossard, 2/1880), lot 651; purchased at the sale by George Cogan, probably acting as agent for Richard B. Winsor, for $100; Winsor Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 12/1895), lot 1067; purchased by Peter Mougey, bidding as "Gold"; William Woodin purchased Mougey's collection intact, after his death in 1908, and sold the majority of the collection through Thomas Elder in 1910, but he kept the three gold coins from the 1843 proof set; Woodin Collection (Thomas Elder, 3/1911), lot 966; Lyman Low, acting as agent for Virgil Brand, journal number 57049; Armin Brand; consigned to B.G. Johnson on October 25, 1937; sold on 7/1/1943, not traced since, possibly number 2 or 3 above.
A. Proof. An example offered by B.G. Johnson to Jim Kelly on 3/3/1944 for $110.
B. Brilliant Proof Gem. Fixed price list "America's Finest Collection of United States and Pioneer Gold Coins" (Hollinbeck-Kagin, 1946); Texas Sale (Hollinbeck-Kagin, 12/1951), lot 1673.
From The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection. (Registry values: P8) (PCGS# 97869)
Weight: 4.18 grams
Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
View all of [The Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Collection ]
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