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    Fabulously Rare 1874 Quarter Eagle, PR65 Ultra Cameo
    One of the Finest Known

    1874 $2 1/2 PR65 Ultra Cameo NGC. The 1874 proof quarter eagle is a wonderful example of how public exposure and demand can influence the price of a coin, and how some issues are underrated and, as a direct result, undervalued. With an astoundingly low mintage of just 20 pieces, this issue was born a numismatic classic. Attrition during the past century has claimed approximately half of the original mintage, and of the remaining 10 or so pieces, two specimens are permanently impounded in museum collections--the Smithsonian Institution and the ANS. With approximately eight coins in private hands, including the current offering, we can definitively state that the 1874 proof two and a half is rarer than an American numismatic classic--the 1804 dollar--yet the price realized at this sale will be a fraction of what the "King of Coins" usually realizes at auction. The reason is that the 1804 dollar has received widespread media attention since the late 1800s, whereas the story of the 1874 proof quarter eagle is unknown to most collectors.
    This is also a good coin to illustrate how population data can become inflated due to resubmissions of the same coin without the submitter disclosing such activity to the grading companies. If the estimate of 10 survivors is accurate--and we are in concurrence--then the population data at the two major services reflect five non-existent examples of this issue. The NGC Census Report shows a total of six pieces in all grades, with the current coin tied for finest. Or is it the same coin? The PCGS Population Report documents seven 1874 proof quarter eagles, with the finest a lone PR65 Deep Cameo (7/08). The combined population of the two services equals 13 coins, yet we must consider the possibility that one or more survivors may reside in tightly held collections, having never been encapsulated. Combine that likelihood with the fact that two specimens are in museum collections, and the possibility that an example or two may reside in a holder other than that of NGC or PCGS.
    The current offering represents the finest graded at either service and it has claims to being the finest known, including the two that are held in museums. The fields are extraordinarily deep in their mirrored reflectivity and the devices are heavily frosted--the combination of both yielding a strong two-toned contrast. A couple of tiny lint marks can be made out with strong magnification in the reverse fields, but there are no noticeable contact marks on either side of this magnificent coin. A curious diagnostic is present on all 1874 quarter eagles: Denticles on each side of star 5 are defective--a useful bit of information on a lesser coin, one that does not "carry its credentials" as this one does.(Registry values: P5) (NGC ID# 287V, PCGS# 97900)

    Weight: 4.18 grams

    Metal: 90% Gold, 10% Copper

    Learn more at the Newman Numismatic Portal at Washington University in St. Louis.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2008
    30th-3rd Wednesday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 948

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