1796 Draped Bust quarter dollar among Scotsman auction highlights

Coin from first year of production for denomination
By , Coin World
Published : 10/05/15
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The United States' first quarter dollar is among the early rarities from the first years of the Philadelphia Mint highlight Scotsman Auction Co.’s Collectors’ Auction, set for Oct. 16 at the Saint Charles Convention Center in metropolitan St. Louis. 

Lot 376, a 1796 Draped Bust quarter dollar graded MS-63 by Numismatic Guaranty Corp., is poised to crack six figures when offered. Representing the first year that the quarter dollar denomination was struck for circulation, the one-year type is popular with type collectors and early quarter dollar specialists alike. 

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It last appeared at a July 20, 2014, auction by GreatCollections.com where it sold for $144,100. Previously, it had appeared in Ira and Larry Goldberg’s Feb. 18, 2002, auction of the Benson Collection where it realized $37,950. That catalog entry called the quarter dollar “the poster coin for the Benson collection as it embodies the rich toning seen on virtually all of the coins from this group.” 

This coin has the look of many of Benson’s silver coins, with rich toning at the edges that is most likely the result of long-term storage in a coin album. 

In another unusually candid disclosure, the Scotsman catalog writes that many of the Benson coins “were lightly cleaned, as was the custom of the early 20th century, then placed into old albums, thus presenting the ideal environment for highly regarded (and highly prized) ‘album toning.’ “ 

The firm adds that despite the cleaning, the market grade is appropriate, “Given that the surface is otherwise noticeably free from any other distractions and lacks any distinguishable contact marks, it is safe to say that the NGC ‘net MS-63’ grade was assigned on that basis.” 

The description then compares the coin to an NGC MS-67+ ★ example that brought $1,527,500 at Heritage’s Nov. 15, 2013, auction of the Eric P. Newman Collection, writing that, while Newman’s example “obviously showcased technical quality of an astonishing level,” the toning of the Benson coin is similar to that on the Newman coin. 

Other expensive 18th century rarities offered at Scotsman’s auction include a 1795 Flowing Hair, Three Leaves silver dollar graded MS-63 by PCGS with an estimate of $110,000 to $120,000 and a 1796 Draped Bust, Large Date, Small Letters dollar graded MS-61 by NGC that Scotsman anticipates will bring in excess of $60,000.

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