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

1881 $2.50 (Regular Strike)

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PCGS MS63+

PCGS MS62

PCGS MS62
PCGS #:
7833
Diameter:
18.00 millimeters
Designer:
Christian Gobrecht
Weight:
4.18 grams
Edge:
Reeded
Mintage:
640
Metal Content:
90% Gold, 10% Copper
Auction Record:
$45,600 • PCGS MS63+ • 11-8-2017 • Stack's/Bowers
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  • 63
  • 63+
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  • 65
Rarity and Survival Estimates (Explain)
Grades Survival
Estimate 
Numismatic
Rarity 
Relative Rarity
By Type 
Relative Rarity
By Series 
All Grades 100 R-8.0 32 / 147 TIE 32 / 147 TIE
60 or Better 20 R-9.1 87 / 147 TIE 87 / 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 MS63+ PCGS grade

Jerome Kern Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1950:70 - Stack's/Bowers 11/2017:10140, $45,600

2 MS63 estimated grade  
3 MS62 PCGS grade

Heritage 5/2009:1542, $12,650

3 MS62 PCGS grade  

Bowers & Merena 8/2010:1580, $12,650 - Stack's/Bowers 8/2011:7620, $11,212.50

3 MS62 PCGS grade  
Condition Census (Explain) Show fewer rows
Pos Grade Thumbnail Pedigree and History
1 MS63+ PCGS grade

Jerome Kern Collection - B. Max Mehl 6/1950:70 - Stack's/Bowers 11/2017:10140, $45,600

2 MS63 estimated grade  
3 MS62 PCGS grade

Heritage 5/2009:1542, $12,650

3 MS62 PCGS grade  

Bowers & Merena 8/2010:1580, $12,650 - Stack's/Bowers 8/2011:7620, $11,212.50

3 MS62 PCGS grade  
3 MS62 PCGS grade  
3 MS62 PCGS grade  
8 MS61 PCGS grade  
8 MS61 PCGS grade  
8 MS61 PCGS grade  

Ron Guth: The 1881 Quarter Eagle is one of the rarest and most popular dates in the series.  Our experts estimate that fewer than 100 examples are still in existence.  As a result, this date is also one of the most expensive Liberty Head Quarter Eagles.

Years ago, David Akers wrote that he was unaware of any full Mint State 1881 Quarter Eagles.  In subsequent years, a number of low-end Mint State examples have shown up on the Population Reports, mostly in MS61 and MS62.  A standout 1881 Quarter Eagle is the PCGS MS63+ that was once called a Proof in B. Max Mehl's sale of the Jerome Kern collection way back in 1950.  

Because there are so many Prooflike 1881 Quarter Eagles, certification is a must to determine if a particular coin is Proof or Mint State.


David Akers (1975/88): A very popular and rare date with one of the lowest mintages in the entire series. In fact, the 1881 has the third lowest regular mintage of any Liberty Head quarter eagle. The 1881 quarter eagle is significantly more rare than the more popular $3 gold piece of the same date, particularly in high grade. I have never seen a full mint state 1881 and even most of the "AU" pieces I've seen were really impaired proofs, rather than high grade circulation strikes. In my experience, business strikes in all grades are more rare than proofs or impaired proofs, and are very underrated.