US Coins

‘Borderline Uncirculated’ 1911-D $2.50

Legend Rare Coin Auctions’ final online Premier Session auction on Dec. 16 offered a range of lightly circulated rare gold coins, including a 1911-D Indian Head gold $2.50 quarter eagle.

Unlike coins of normal relief, artist Bela Lyon Pratt’s sunken relief design seen on the Indian Head quarter eagle better conceals light wear.

Because the devices’ high points are mostly below the fields as a result of Pratt’s innovative design, collectors unfamiliar with the series can have trouble detecting wear on lightly circulated coins, and a coin like the offered one — graded About Uncirculated 58 by Professional Coin Grading Service with a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker — was often sold as Mint State before the adoption of third-party grading. Sometimes the term “Borderline Uncirculated” or “Slider” is used for such high-end AU coins. 

The high point is at the Native American’s cheek on the obverse, which shows light rub, as do the reverse fields. The appealing coin sold for $5,060 in Legend’s auction. 

Two primary Mint mark varieties are seen on this low-mintage issue of just 55,600 coins: the Strong D and the Weak D. The issue is frequently counterfeited by adding a false Denver “D” Mint mark. Some Weak D examples display a Mint mark so faint that it is virtually undetectable, on which PCGS co-founder David Hall remarked, “Seems that when someone buys a 1911-D they actually want to see the D!” 

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