1849 Seated Liberty Quarter, PR66
1849 25C PR66 PCGS. CAC. Briggs 4-C, R.7 as a proof. This
delightful Premium Gem proof is fully detailed, showing bold star
radials, fine detail in the eagle's feathers, and razor-sharp
definition on Liberty's drapery. The edges are square, and a wire
rim shows on both sides. The impeccably preserved surfaces display
spectacular shades of iridescent blue, violet, and gold toning. A
few die polish lines are evident on close inspection, but no
mentionable post-strike distractions can be detected. The fields
are deeply reflective under the patina, and the eye appeal is
Very Rare Early Proof, Possibly Five Survivors
Tied for Finest Known, Ex: Pittman
Variety: Proofs were struck from the Briggs 4-C dies, displaying the date sloping down left to right on the obverse and all vertical lines in the shield extending up into the horizontal lines at the top on the reverse. The reverse die was also used to strike proofs in 1846, 1847, and 1848.
Population Data (4/15): PCGS CoinFacts estimates three to five examples of the 1849 proof Seated Liberty quarter survive in all grades. PCGS has recorded five certification events, with this coin tied with one other PR66 specimen for finest certified. NGC has graded three examples, with a single PR66 finest, but we believe that coin has been crossed over and is now in a PR65 PCGS holder.
Heritage Commentary: Like all pre-1858 proof issues, the mintage of proof quarters was extremely small in 1849. Walter Breen reported that the 1849 proof quarter was the "rarest denomination of this difficult date," and he listed only three examples in his Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Proof Coins. Larry Briggs also estimated the surviving population at a meager three-plus pieces, all told. When David Akers cataloged the present coin in the John Jay Pittman Collection in 1998, he expanded the roster of known specimens to five examples. We have studied the history of this issue extensively, but our roster below still consists of only five separate coins, with a number of early appearances that may or may not represent the coins in the primary roster.
Heritage Auctions has offered an example of the 1849 proof Seated Liberty quarter on just five occasions in the past, representing only three different coins. This magnificent specimen, with realistic claims to the title of "Finest Known," has been off the market for 17 years, and it may be just as long before a comparable example becomes available. Advanced specialists and Registry Set enthusiasts should bid accordingly.
1849 Proof Seated Liberty Quarter Roster
1. PR66 PCGS. Ruth Green; purchased privately on 10/11/1949 by John Jay Pittman; Pittman Collection, Part II (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1315. The present coin.
2. PR66 PCGS. William Dickinson Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 3/1894), per the Eliasberg catalog, but the only 1849 quarter in that sale was graded Very Fine, suggesting the Clapps may have upgraded their coin at a later date; J.M. Clapp; J.H. Clapp; Clapp estate; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. in 1942, via Stack's; Eliasberg Collection, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 4/1997), lot 1445; Long Beach Signature (Heritage, 2/1999), lot 5915.
3. PR65 PCGS. J. Colvin Randall Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 6/1885), lot 623; T. Harrison Garrett; Robert Garrett; John Work Garrett; Johns Hopkins University; Garrett Collection (Stack's, 3/1976), lot 160; Kenneth C. Long Estate (Bowers and Merena, 5/1995), lot 1089; 65th Anniversary Sale (Stack's, 10/2000), lot 709; Phil Kaufman Collection, Part III (Heritage, 4/2008), lot 2390; Greensboro Collection, Part III (Heritage, 4/2013), lot 4221; Orlando Signature (Heritage, 7/2013), lot 3128; FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/2014), lot 5219.
4. PR65/64. Thomas Elder; purchased privately by Albert Holden for $4.50; Emery May Holden Norweb; Norweb Collection, Part II (Bowers and Merena, 3/1988), lot 1585.
5. PR63 PCGS. FUN Signature (Heritage, 1/1998), lot 6781.
A. Proof. John F. McCoy Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 5/1864), lot 375, part of a five-piece silver proof set, realized $50 to J.N.T. Levick; possibly the Fifth Semi-Annual Sale (Woodward, 10/1864), lot 304, still in the set, with cent added, realized $47.50 to Hodge.
B. Proof. Joseph Mickley Collection (W. Elliot Woodward, 10/1867), lot 1717, part of a five-piece silver proof set, realized $55 to Lilliendahl.
C. Proof. Lorin G. Parmelee Collection (New York Coin & Stamp, 6/1890), lot 1202, part of a complete silver and minor proof set, with the coins offered individually; Charles Steigerwalt.
D. Proof. H.P. Smith Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 5/1906), lot 1239, part of a seven-piece silver and minor proof set.
E. Proof. Matthew Stickney Collection (S.H. & H. Chapman, 6/1907), lot 1793, part of a seven-piece silver and minor proof set.
F. Proof. George Earle Collection (Henry Chapman, 6/1912), lot 3094.
G. Proof. Jerome Kern (B. Max Mehl, 5/1950), lot 1440.
Note: Walter Breen and Wayte Raymond reported that Colonel E.H.R. Green owned several complete proof sets from the 1840s and he may have had one or more dated 1849. B. Max Mehl reported there were no 1849-dated proofs in the Waldo Newcomer Collection. Virgil Brand may have acquired an 1849-dated proof quarter, but we are unaware of any specific citations of such a coin.(Registry values: P4) (NGC ID# 23WC, PCGS# 5543)
Weight: 6.68 grams
Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
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