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

1854-S $2.50 (Regular Strike)

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PCGS AU50

PCGS XF40

PCGS VF35
PCGS #:
7773
Diameter:
18.00 millimeters
Designer:
Christian Gobrecht
Weight:
4.18 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
246
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$345,000 • PCGS EF45 • 2-1-2007 • Heritage
Go To Grade
  • 4
  • 6
  • 8
  • 10
  • 12
  • 15
  • 20
  • 25
  • 30
  • 35
  • 40
  • 45
  • 45+
  • 50
4
175,000
4
6
195,000
1
6
8
210,000
8
10
220,000
1
10
15
245,000
15
20
260,000
20
25
270,000
25
30
280,000
30
40
325,000
1
40
45+
385,000
45+
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 11 R-9.5 1 / 147 TIE 1 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 147 1 / 147
65 or Better 0 R-10.1 1 / 147 1 / 147
Condition Census (Explain) Show more rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 AU50 PCGS grade  

F.C.C. Boyd - Numismatic Gallery 1/1946:242 - Numismatic Gallery 3/1948:222 - New Netherlands 6/1958:837 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:472, $135,700 - Superior 1/2004:792, $178,250

1 AU50 estimated grade  
3 XF45 PCGS grade  

Rio Rancho Collection - Superior 10/1974:89 - Heritage 2/2007:4325, $345,000

3 XF45 estimated grade  

Lee Family heirloom - American Numismatic Rarities 9/2005:1128 (as NGC EF45), $253,000

5 XF40 estimated grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 AU50 PCGS grade  

F.C.C. Boyd - Numismatic Gallery 1/1946:242 - Numismatic Gallery 3/1948:222 - New Netherlands 6/1958:837 - Harry W. Bass, Jr. - Bowers & Merena 10/1999:472, $135,700 - Superior 1/2004:792, $178,250

1 AU50 estimated grade  
3 XF45 PCGS grade  

Rio Rancho Collection - Superior 10/1974:89 - Heritage 2/2007:4325, $345,000

3 XF45 estimated grade  

Lee Family heirloom - American Numismatic Rarities 9/2005:1128 (as NGC EF45), $253,000

5 XF40 estimated grade  
6 VF35 PCGS grade  

Davis-Graves Collection - Stack's 4/1954:825 - Norweb Collection - Bowers & Merena 3/1988:2025 - Richmond Collection - David Lawrence 7/2004:1149 - Heritage 10/2011:4692, $253,000

7 VF30 estimated grade  

Paramount “Auction '86” 7/1986:1867 - RARCOA 8/1991:937 - Heritage 7/2009:1224, $253,000

8 F15 PCGS grade  
8 F15 PCGS grade  
10 F12 PCGS grade

Broadus R. Littlejohn Collection - Schuyler Ramsey Auctions 2/2012:345, $172,500

P. Scott Rubin: The 1854-S Quarter Eagle is one of the rarest of all U.S. regular issue coinage, with a reported mintage of only 346 coins. Not only was the mintage very small but it appears the coin was well-used at the time of issue since nearly all known specimens grade no better than Very Fine.

There is not a single specimen known today that would grade Mint State. In fact the finest graded by PCGS is an AU50 from the Harry Bass collection. It is interesting to note that the same Bass coin which is originally from the F.C.C. Boyd collection was only graded Very Fine the first three times it appeared at auction, in 1946, 1948 and again in 1958. The 1958 sale was New Netherlands Coin Company’s 51st Sale -- this firm was notorious for under grading at the time. A look at the plate from that sale shows a coin with all appearances of a grade higher than Very Fine.

The first appearance of an 1854-S Quarter Eagle seems to be Elder’s 1921 auction of the Lewis C. Gehring collection where a specimen graded About Fine sold as lot 488. The next auction sale of an 1854-S Quarter Eagle did not occur until 1940. It should be noted that the Gehring collection is one of the first to offer a serious collection of mintmarked gold. This coin seems to be overlooked in all census information available today of 1854-S Quarter Eagles.
David Akers (1975/88): The 1854-S is one of the rarest of all U.S. gold coins. Its low mintage of only 246 pieces is the third lowest of any regularly issued U.S. gold coin. (Only the 1875 eagle and half eagle have lower mintages.) All known specimens are very low grade, and I have not seen one that would fully grade extremely fine, although according to Stanley Kesselman, the one purchased by Harry Bass from Stack's comes very close. I would estimate that no more than 12 to 15 specimens are known.