‘Discovery’ 1854-S quarter eagle in auction

Heritage’s Bently auction offers gold $2.50 rarity
By , Coin World
Published : 03/10/14
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The discovery example of the 1854-S Coronet gold $2.50 quarter eagle is making an auction appearance March 20.

Graded Good 6 and encapsulated by Professional Coin Grading Service, the discovery coin is one of 596 lots comprising the Donald E. Bently Collection to be offered March 20 in San Francisco by Heritage Auctions.

According to Heritage, the net proceeds from the Bently auction will be used by the Bently Foundation to fund building “a new legacy of creativity, sustainability and animal rights in the Bay Area of Northern California and in Northern Nevada.”

In addition to the 1854-S quarter eagle, the Bently Collection includes numerous other rarities, such as an 1841 Coronet quarter eagle, dubbed the “Little Princess,” graded PCGS Proof 53, and an 1830 Templeton Reid $2.50 pioneer gold piece, graded PCGS About Uncirculated 55.

1854-S quarter eagle

The 1854-S Coronet quarter eagle is one of only 246 of the gold $2.50 coins struck at the San Francisco Mint dated 1854, and one of just 12 examples from that mintage confirmed to have survived.

Why only 246 quarter eagles were struck at San Francisco in 1854 is open to speculation.

The commonly held theory blames the San Francisco Mint’s difficulty in obtaining acids to part the gold from the native California gold during the facility’s inaugural year of production. However, the production of larger quantities of gold dollars, $10 eagles and $20 double eagles may cast doubt on that theory.

The coin in the Heritage auction is considered the discovery 1854-S quarter eagle. It counts among its previous owners such numismatic luminaries as H.O. Granberg, Elmer Sears, John H. Clapp and Louis E. Eliasberg Sr.

In his 1909 Official Premium List of United States, Private and Territorial Gold Coins, numismatist Edgar H. Adams showed “no record of public sale” for an 1854-S quarter eagle. A few years later, Adams published a May 1911 article in the American Numismatic Association journal, The Numismatist, identifying the existence of an 1854-S Coronet quarter eagle in H.O. Granberg’s collection.

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