1839 Quarter Eagle, PR62
1839 $2 1/2 PR62 PCGS. When he compiled the quarter eagle
volume of United States Gold Coins, an Analysis of Auction
Records in 1975, David Akers wrote about the 1839 quarter
eagles: "Strictly uncirculated specimens are extremely rare and as
far as I know, no proofs are known to exist." Two years later, when
Walter Breen's Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof
Coins was published in 1977, the author wrote that 1839 proof
quarter eagles were unknown. Just a few years later, four different
1839 proof quarter eagles appeared, all from European sources.
Heritage numismatist Marc Emory, who represented New England Rare
Coin Galleries in the early 1980s, explains:
Last Classic Head Issue
No More Than Four Proofs Known
"I handled all four of the ones that showed up in that time period. I bought one together with a proof 1839 No Drapery half dollar from the same source as the three-piece gold set later on, and the other two from different sources, although I very much suspect that the reason for that is that I was not 'in situ' when the first two showed up. Given that all four quarter eagles were of the same grade and color, showed up within a space of eight months, and originating from the same country, I can't imagine they were stored in different places for a century prior to that. Three of the quarter eagles were bought by me in 1981, and the last one, the one in the set, was in January 1982."
There is no record of any other pieces appearing since that time, and none were known earlier. The four coins are all similar in appearance and grade. Our provenance record accounts for two pieces, and the other two remain unlocated. They were either sold into strong collections in the early 1980s, where they remain today, or their proof status was discounted and they are now considered prooflike. The surviving population of proof 1839 quarter eagles is no less than two pieces and no more than four pieces.
Although some 1839 quarter eagles have been offered as 1839/8 overdates in the past, all known specimens, business strikes and proofs, are from a single pair of dies with the date recut, most obvious below the 8, above the 3, and above and within the 9. Several stars are repunched, especially stars 6, 7, and 8. Several fine die polishing lines appear in the fields. The reverse shows the berry detached from the stem, the tip of the arrow feather over the space between the primary 2 and the small 1 in the denomination, the lowest arrow point below the inside foot of the right base of the final A, and the first line of the third shield stripe extending upward to the second crossbar. There is also evidence of a double strike on the reverse, a characteristic common to most early proof coins of every composition.
This amazing coin has deeply reflective fields, and the details are unusually crisp for the design type with definition that is far finer than any business strike. A few light hairlines show, the coin having apparently been cleaned at some time in the past. Otherwise, no distracting blemishes appear on either side. As for pedigree identifiers, we note a small area of unfinished die polish below the back of the truncation of the bust and immediately in front of the lowest hair curl. On the reverse there are three tiny planchet flakes left of the primary 2 in the denomination, and a short vertical toning line above the upper leaf tip of the middle pair.
Provenance Record of 1839 Proof Quarter Eagles
PR62 PCGS. Carmichael and Miller Sale (Superior, 1/1986), lot 2912; Buddy Ebsen Sale (Superior, 6/1987), lot 2275; Dennis Mendelson Sale (Superior, 2/1991), lot 2662; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/1999), lot 7949; Goldberg Coins (5/2001), lot 1234. The present specimen.
PR61 PCGS. Bowers and Merena (5/1993), lot 2537; Superior (8/2006), lot 571. Offered as PR61 PCGS in 1993 and as PR62 PCGS in 2006.(Registry values: P1) (NGC ID# 286Z, PCGS# 7715)
Weight: 4.18 grams
Metal: 89.92% Gold, 10.08% Copper
Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.
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