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    1927-S Standing Liberty Quarter, MS66 Full Head
    Premier Series Strike Rarity
    Tied for the Finest Certified Full Head

    1927-S 25C MS66 Full Head PCGS. The Standing Liberty quarter has been a favorite among numismatic art enthusiasts virtually since its debut, and the 1927-S ranks as one of the scarcest and most sought-after issues in the series. It is also one of the weakest strikes, and Full Head representatives are among the chief rarities in all of 20th century numismatics. The factors responsible for the legendary softness of the design elements, however, run much deeper than just poor striking pressure. According to a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated September 6, 1916 (reproduced in Cline's Standing Liberty Quarters, fourth edition), problems producing sharp impressions of the design began several months before regular coinage actually began:

    "The technical difficulty seems to be due to the fact that the relief of the designs is too high to make a perfect coin."

    Charles Barber, however, was allowed to modify the designs to conform to the mechanical requirements of the Mint, with the satisfactory result that the Type One quarters that debuted in 1917 were easily struck and consistently sharp. The problem seemed solved until the Mint Director received a letter from Hermon MacNeil who was somewhat less than happy with the alterations that had been made without his knowledge. In that letter, dated January 11, 1917 (also reproduced in Cline's book), the artist states:

    "... while I have great respect for the opinion and point of view of yourself and the Secretary of the Treasury as the final judges, I am sure you will permit me as the sculptor to incorporate in this your apparently final decision certain changes that while leaving the coin as now planned will enormously improve it from an artistic point of view. It is this for which, as I understand it, the sculptor was employed."

    MacNeil was granted permission to make his proposed corrections with the aid of George Morgan (of Morgan dollar fame), but the design changes were not transferred to regular production until mid-1917, following congressional authorization. When the new type began to flow from the coining presses, however, the striking problems that the Mint had experienced in September 1916, were back. J.H. Cline, writing in the April 3, 1991 edition of Coin World, notes:

    "When the design was modified to cover Miss Liberty's upper torso, the changes affected the way the die struck the planchet. The modified coin had so much detailed design that the dies became clogged with tiny metal shavings - many times after just a few strikes. ... As the dies of the modified design became clogged with use, detail in Miss Liberty's head, shield, toes and elsewhere began to diminish."

    This time, however, the problem was not addressed, and would be allowed to persist to some degree until the end of the series.

    The San Francisco Mint, operating with somewhat lower production values than the Philadelphia facility, had the most difficulty with the new design, and by 1927, the quality control at the California branch reached an all-time low in regards to the quarter denomination. Cline estimates that less than 1% of the low 396,000-coin mintage for this year was ever struck well enough to qualify for Full Head status to begin with, and remarkably few of these survive in Mint State condition. In Standing Liberty Quarters, fourth edition, he writes:

    "If all Full Heads had been withheld from circulation, it would still have been the scarcest S mint of the entire series excluding of course the 1918/7-S. ... Your author would rate it three to five times rarer than the 1916 in Full Head."

    PCGS and NGC combined have certified only 45 Full Head 1927-S quarters in all grades, and even this paltry number is likely inflated by a number of resubmissions. At the Gem level, Full Head examples are major rarities, and PCGS and NGC combined have seen only four submissions worthy of a Premium Gem grade (three at PCGS and one at NGC), with none finer (6/14).

    This piece ranks as one of the finest-known Full Heads of this issue, and is a true marvel to behold; rich hues of ocean-blue, violet, and amber enrich the peripheries, while the remainder of each side displays a faint golden hue and showcases radiant underlying mint luster. Strong Full Head detail is accompanied by above-average definition on the shield rivets and the eagle's feathers, and the surfaces reveal only a few minute ticks under a lens. Uniformly dispersed die striations are noted in the fields, likely from an attempt to remove clash marks, the remnants of which are still visible on each side. This characteristic is seen on many genuine 1927-S quarters.

    Despite the technical difficulties associated with its production, the Standing Liberty quarter is one of the most beautiful and cherished coins in American numismatics, and the 1927-S in Full Head is among the most prized and challenging coins in the complete series set. This incredible coin represents the ultimate opportunity for the advanced specialist or Registry Set collector, one that may not become available again for quite some time.(Registry values: N14284) (NGC ID# 243W, PCGS# 5765)

    Weight: 6.25 grams

    Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

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

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2014
    5th-9th Tuesday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,478

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    The marketing was exceptional from the photos to the ads in Civil War Times and North South Trader for the cross over people!!! I have had many emails from my Civil War collecting fraternity that saw these and I saw them at the national show in Nashville/Franklin in early December.
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    Rockwall, TX
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