1796 $2.50 No Stars MS (PCGS# 7645)

The March 2012 Baltimore Auction

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Lot Description
The 1796 No Stars quarter eagle is a coin of legends. In a flurry of activity, the Philadelphia Mint was busier than ever in 1796, launching new denominations, coining all then current denominations and creating dies at an activity level not seen again for generations. Only in 1796 were <em>all </em>denominations struck except for the yet to be conceived gold dollar of 1849 and double eagle of 1850. This 1796 quarter eagle was borne out of that flurry, and became one of the most sought-after coins in American numismatics. Listed as #67 in the <em>100 Greatest U.S. Coins</em> reference by Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth, a position hard won and confirming its desirability.<br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The surfaces show luster in the fields and frost on the devices, with minor handling marks expected over the surfaces. Rather well struck too, with each curl on Liberty sharply impressed and the eagle's feathers visible and clear. It is curious to note that of all the precious metal coinage of silver and gold in 1796, only this 1796 quarter eagle lacks any stars on the obverse. Similar "no stars" coins had been struck as trials in the earliest days of the mint but by the time production began for circulation, stars were the norm on the obverses of anything struck in silver or gold. After coinage of 963 pieces for the year, the obverse die was replaced with another of 1796 but that obverse had the usual and customary (for that year) sixteen stars. Perhaps 100 to 200 of these survived without the stars, and are collected as a single year type coin as well as to represent the date for quarter eagle specialists. The reverse die used a punch that was made by John Gardner, with the eagle showing a long neck and trio of claws going over the arrows and branch, as well as two rows of tail feathers. Notable scribe lines are seen on the die at the tops of the letters in AMERICA which assisted the engraver in his task of placing the letters correctly on the die. NGC for all its years
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