1834 Classic Head Quarter Eagle, PR64 Cameo
1834 Classic Head Quarter Eagle PR64 Cameo NGC. Breen-6138,
Variety 1, Small Head, R.7 as a Proof. The year 1834 was a
pivotal one for U.S. gold coins in particular. The melt value of a
quarter eagle produced in the old-tenor Capped Bust style had risen
to $2.66; the gold content was reduced, the Classic Head, No Motto
design style signifying the change. Only a handful of proofs exist
of the issue and the type. The 1834 proof quarter eagle and half
eagle in the King of Siam proof set were of the newer type. In the
sale of the Pittman example (Akers, 5/1998, lot 1718), David Akers
presents a roster of eight known proofs of the 1834 No Motto, all
but one of the Small Head style. (The Smithsonian example is a
Large Head.) Three of those coins, in the Smithsonian, the ANS, and
the Bass Research Foundation, are permanently off the market.
Variety 1, Small Head
Perhaps Five Available to Collectors
On this Classic Head, Small Head die pairing, the 4 in the date is well away from the lowest hair curl, and Liberty's hair at the back of the head forms a straight line. On the No Motto reverse, none of the letters around the periphery touch. Breen notes these comments in his Complete Encyclopedia:
"Proofs (enl. photos) have bases of E(S) and O repunched; at least 8 survive, mostly impaired (spent during the Hard Times?). On business strikes, repunching fades out."
In fact, Breen is correct that there is doubling, or repunching, on the bases of E and O, but the present coin actually shows that phenomenon on all the letters ATES OF. It is quite prominent, and completely unseen on the business strikes of this issue. The first S in STATES also shows some sign of repunching, although we can see none on the T adjacent. One cataloger wondered if the doubling visible on so many letters was actually doubling from a second strike. We believe that is less likely, as there is no doubling visible on the dentilation immediately above those letters, and we can see no obvious strike doubling in other areas of the reverse.
Whatever the source of the doubling (repunching is still our theory), it certainly makes an even stronger case--if one were needed, which it is not--for the status of this coin as a special piece, clearly a specimen or presentation proof.
The proof 1834 Classic Head quarter eagles are legendary rarities, making this specimen among the rarest coins in this marvelous eight-piece proof set. This is only the second time since we began maintaining our Permanent Auction Archives that we have had the privilege of offering a proof Classic Head quarter eagle of any date, much less the first-year 1834 issue. In fact, our research shows only 11 offerings of the 1834 in proof format in the last 54 years, with many of those appearances duplicates or impaired proof examples. The combined NGC/PCGS population data indicates 12 submissions, some without a doubt duplicates.
The present near-Gem Cameo specimen is a coin with marvelous eye appeal and outstanding surface texture throughout both sides. The contrast is quite profound, much more so than the mere Cameo designation might imply. The devices are profoundly frosted throughout, not only the central devices but the date, peripheral stars, and reverse legends. The mirrored field reflectivity, as contrasting background, is sufficiently deep that we wonder why this coin did not receive a Deep Cameo designation. There are no mentionable signs of contact. The strike is razor-sharp throughout, full or nearly so in all areas. The consistent orange-gold coloration is a further plus. Census: 2 in 64 Cameo, 2 finer (11/10).(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 286V, PCGS# 7710)
Weight: 4.18 grams
Metal: 89.92% Gold, 10.08% Copper
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