US Coins

1796 Draped Bust quarter eagle a one-year type

Stack’s Bowers Galleries auctions at the end of October at the Whitman Coin and Collectibles Winter Baltimore Expo offered a wide array of rare U.S. coins.

It’s tough to consider a coin that costs more than a nice luxury car as entry level, but any 1796 Capped Bust, No Stars gold $2.50 quarter eagle is expensive. It is a one-year type coin with a low mintage of 963 pieces. 


three auction catalogsInside Coin World: Pick strawberries, get tokens: Strawberry pickers tokens, 1883 Liberty Head 5-cent coins and a die marriage of the 1878-CC Morgan dollar are among the topics of columns in the Nov. 26 issue of Coin World.


A not unattractive 1796 Capped Bust, No Stars gold $2.50 quarter eagle graded Professional Coin Grading Service About Uncirculated Details, Repaired, brought $56,450 at the Oct. 25 Rarities Night auction.

The BD-1 variety, as cataloged in John Dannreuther and Harry W. Bass Jr.’s reference book Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties: A Study of Die States, 1795–1834, represents the first die engraved to launch the denomination. The cataloger writes, “Likely, the engraver considered that with stars featured in the reverse design, adding additional stars to the obverse would be redundant.” 

With sustained demand from type collectors and series specialists, even examples with problems are expensive, such as the subject offering, which has heavy scratches on both sides and a generally polished appearance. Also, “An arc-shaped depression on the reverse appears to be the remnants of an incomplete planchet punch, where the planchet cutter failed to fully cut through the metal.” The reverse shows evidence of the failure of the reverse die with several heavy die cracks. 

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