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SERIES: Liberty Head $2 1/2 1840-1907
LEVEL: Year, MintMark, & Major Variety

1843-C $2.50 Small Date (Regular Strike)

Image courtesy of Heritage Numismatic Auctions

18.00 millimeters
Christian Gobrecht
4.18 grams
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$28,750 • PCGS MS62 • 2-1-2009 • Heritage Auctions
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Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 75 R-8.2 19 / 147 TIE 19 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 4 R-9.8 5 / 147 TIE 5 / 147 TIE
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 147 1 / 147
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS62 PCGS grade  
2 MS61 PCGS grade  
2 MS61 PCGS grade  
4 MS60 PCGS grade  
4 MS60 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS62 PCGS grade  
2 MS61 PCGS grade  
2 MS61 PCGS grade  
4 MS60 PCGS grade  
4 MS60 PCGS grade  
6 AU58 PCGS grade  
6 AU58 PCGS grade  
6 AU58 PCGS grade  
6 AU58 PCGS grade  
6 AU58 PCGS grade  
David Akers (1975/88): From the standpoint of total number of appearances at auction, the 1843-C Small Date is the sixth rarest quarter eagle. However, I have seen significantly more of this coin than I have of many other dates in this series, and in fact, in one collection of Charlotte Mint gold coins I saw at the 1974 ANA Convention, there were five or six dfferent pieces, all of them high grade, i.e. better than EF. Probably less than a third of the total mintage of 26,064 pieces were this variety. All specimens that I have seen have at least a partial wire rim and have a prominent die break from the tip of Liberty's bust through the denticles to the rim.
Doug Winter: In 1843, two distinct varieties of quarter eagles were struck at the Charlotte Mint. The first (and rarer) had a small date with a Crosslet 4 and a small mintmark. This variety was produced first and has the same sized date and mintmark as on the Charlotte quarter eagles struck from 1840 to 1842.

The 1842-C Small Date is the rarest Charlotte quarter eagle. It is not the rarest date in the series in high grade, despite claims to the contrary. Most often seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grade, it is rare in properly graded AU50 to AU55 and very rare in AU58. There are an estimated five or six that grade Uncirculated by today’s standards, but none of these grade higher than MS62 or thereabouts.

The 1843-C Small Date remains the rarest Charlotte quarter eagle. It went unrecognized as a rare issue until the late 1950s/early 1960s when it was first publicized by New Netherlands Coin Company in their auction catalogs. Today, it is regarded as one of the most desirable coins struck at the Charlotte Mint.

STRIKE: The obverse is nearly always sharper than the reverse. Most of the obverse details are quite bold with the exception of the curls around the face. There is some light die rust on top of IBE in LIBERTY which weakens this word. The stars show full radial lines and many examples have a distinctive high wire edge at the left obverse. On late die states, a bulge can be seen at the tip of the neck, which may weaken this area somewhat. The reverse is not as well struck. The center is often weak on the feathers near the shield and on the shield itself. The legs and claws are soft while the neck feathers and tips of the wings are better detailed. The reverse border is sharp with no weakness seen on the lettering or on the denticles.

In my opinion, this is one of the harder Charlotte coins to grade accurately. On late die state coins, the bulging of the dies gives the impression of wear. This is compounded by the overall weakness of strike seen on the obverse of many pieces. To properly grade an 1843-C Small Date, the remaining luster is a more important factor than what may appear to be wear in the obverse fields or on the portrait.

SURFACES: The surfaces on many examples of this variety have numerous small ticks and scuffs, which can be detracting. It is still possible to locate an example that is relatively clean and free of marks but this is getting to be more and more of a challenge.

LUSTER: The luster has a very distinctive appearance that is different than on other Charlotte quarter eagles of this era. The fields are slightly reflective and grainy while the devices tend to be frosty in appearance. I have seen at least a few 1843-C, Small Date quarter eagles that I would characterize as semi-prooflike.

COLORATION: It is hard to locate examples with original color as most have been cleaned or dipped. Uncleaned pieces tend to show medium to deep green-gold coloration or less often, deep orange-gold or even reddish-gold hues.

EYE APEAL: As with most scarce coins, the majority of 1843-C Small Date quarter eagles have been cleaned at one time. From time to time, it is possible to find an example which is original and which has good eye appeal. Pieces with a nice appearance are always in great demand among specialists and they routinely command strong premiums over the typical “scrubbed” coin.

DIE CHARACTERISTICS: Early strikes show light die scratches outside of the final three stars on the obverse.

DIE VARIETY: Only a single die variety is known.

Variety 1 (formerly Variety 4-C): The 1 in the date is very close to the bust while the 3 is equidistant between the bust and the denticles. The reverse was used only in 1843. It has a small mintmark but it is slightly larger than that seen on the 1840-1842 quarter eagles from this mint. The mintmark is joined to the feathers and it extends up to the shaft of the arrow. It is about the same distance from the talon, fraction bar and the 1 in the value.

At least three die states are known to exist.

Die State I. Perfect obverse die. This state is very rare.

Die State II. The obverse shows a thin crack from the point of the bust to the rim at 7:00. Some bulging may be in evidence.

Die State III. The obverse crack is heavier and the area around it has begun to bulge noticeably. This is the most common die state.
Gordon Wrubel: Quickfinder notes: The Small Date has a CROSSLET 4. Small thin date punches were used. The 1 is well clear of the truncation and dentils. The Large Date has a plain crossbar on the 4 and the 1 almost touches the truncation and dentils.