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

1851-D $2.50 (Regular Strike)

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18.00 millimeters
Christian Gobrecht
4.18 grams
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$63,250 • NGC MS65 • 4-6-2006 • Heritage Auctions
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 120 R-7.8 43 / 147 TIE 43 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 6 R-9.7 27 / 147 TIE 27 / 147 TIE
65 or Better 1 R-10.0 1 / 147 TIE 1 / 147 TIE
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS64 PCGS grade  
1 MS64 estimated grade  
3 MS63 estimated grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS64 PCGS grade  
1 MS64 estimated grade  
3 MS63 estimated grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
4 MS62 PCGS grade  
7 AU58 PCGS grade  
7 AU58 PCGS grade  
7 AU58 PCGS grade  
7 AU58 estimated grade  
David Akers (1975/88): Scarce in all grades, and very rare above EF. I have never seen a full mint state coin and only two or three others that could legitimately be called AU. Similar in overall rarity to the 1851-C despite the higher number of auction records. All specimens have varying degrees of weakness in the denticles although the head of Liberty and the eagle are usually fairly well struck.
Doug Winter: In my opinion, the 1851-D is one of the more undervalued Dahlonega quarter eagles. It usually trades in the same price range as the 1849-D and the 1850-D but it is scarcer, especially in high grades (i.e., in About Uncirculated and better).

The 1851-D quarter eagle is usually seen in Very Fine and Extremely Fine grades. It is rare in About Uncirculated with fewer than two dozen pieces believed to exist. In full Mint State, it is an extremely rare coin with five different specimens currently known.

STRIKE: The 1851-D quarter eagle is found with a better strike than the 1849-D or the 1850-D. In fact, it is the last Dahlonega quarter eagle until 1857 which is not hard to locate with an average to above average quality strike. The obverse center shows good detail with the exception of the hair below IBERT in LIBERTY which is sometimes very flat. The stars are usually flat but there are a few known which show full radial lines. The denticles are much sharper than on the 1850-D although the area from 5:00 to 7:00 is often weak and appears rusted. The reverse has sharp feathers on the neck and the wings of the eagle but both legs are often weak as is the arrow feather and the left claw. The denticles are not as sharp on the obverse and they are sometimes very weak from 2:00 to 7:00.

SURFACES: This date is almost always found with liberally abraded surfaces. For some reason, these marks are often heaviest in the obverse fields. 1851-D quarter eagles show mint-made die rust on the obverse (this is most often seen on the cheek of Liberty, her brow and forehead and near the date) and less often on the reverse. There are two diagnostic mint-made die scratches on the obverse which are sometimes mistaken for defects. The first extends from the denticles through an upper point of star twelve and out into the field between stars eleven and twelve. The second extends from the denticles out into the field between stars twelve and thirteen.

LUSTER: High grade examples have good luster. This luster is bright and frosty with a somewhat satiny texture.

COLORATION: Original uncleaned pieces have coloration which ranges from rich rose-gold to light green-gold to even yellow. There are not many original 1851-D quarter eagles remaining as most have been cleaned or dipped.

EYE APPEAL: There are a small number of extremely attractive examples which exist. It is easier to locate an acceptable 1851-D than most of the other dates of this decade due to the fact that many show a good strike and have pleasing luster. Finding a piece that is free of defects and which has fully original color is another story.

DIE VARIETIES: Only one die variety is known.

Variety 14-M: On the obverse, the top of the first 1 in the date is joined to the bust while the base of this numeral nearly touches a denticle. The right base of the second 1 also nearly touches a denticle and the top of this numeral is not close to the bust. There is an extra segment which extends from the center of the lower loop of the 5 out towards the upright of the second 1. This fades on later die states. The reverse is the same as described for 1847-D Variety 9-M.