The Joys of Collecting column from Aug. 17,
2015, weekly issue of Coin World:
Coronet gold $2.50 quarter eagles have only one
design type — a longevity unequaled in any other American series. The
coins feature Charlotte, Dahlonega and New Orleans Branch Mint marks up to the Civil
War and San Francisco Mint marks from 1854 to 1879. The
Philadelphia Mint issued them from 1840 to 1907.
U.S. Mint engraver Christian Gobrecht designed the coin. The
obverse features a Liberty Head portrait with coronet, 13 stars
surrounding, and the date below. On the reverse is a perched eagle.
Collecting Coronet quarter eagles by date and Mint mark can seem
daunting at the outset. In reality, all but a handful are readily
collectible. In such grades as Very Fine and Extremely Fine the vast
majority cost less than $1,000, and many less than $500.
The series has several rarities.
The 1841 Coronet quarter eagle, nicknamed “The Little Princess,” is
a mysterious issue for which no mintage figure was recorded. Could
they have been made in connection with the inauguration of William
Henry Harrison in March of that year? A dozen or so exist.
The 1848 Coronet, CAL. quarter eagle, with inscription
counterstamped on the reverse, is another key coin and was minted to
the extent of only 1,389 pieces, using gold brought from California to
Washington by a special messenger and examined by President James
Polk, then sent to the Philadelphia Mint.
After December 1861, gold coins were hoarded in the East and Midwest
and did not circulate. They sold at a sharp premium in terms of legal
tender notes when purchased from banks and brokers.
On the West Coast, the opposite was true: gold coins were plentiful
in circulation, but legal tender notes sold at a sharp discount. As
San Francisco Mint quarter eagles circulated more extensively than did
Philadelphia coins during and after the Civil War, most seen today are
in such grades as Very Fine and Extremely Fine, while for Philadelphia
Mint coins, About Uncirculated and Mint State coins are the rule.
Gold reached parity with paper money in the East and Midwest on Dec.
17, 1878. Anticipating a huge demand for gold coins, the Mint ramped
up production. Demand did not happen. Citizens were satisfied with
paper money, knowing it could be exchanged for gold. The mintage of
quarter eagles dropped off precipitously until the turn of the 20th century.
More from CoinWorld.com:
Liberty, High Relief gold coin ‘currently unavailable’ after sales
top 30,000 within 75 minutes of launch
American Eagle bullion sales in July more than double June's total [INFOGRAPHIC]
gold double eagle case continues as court vacates earlier ruling
that awarded coins to family
American Eagle bullion sales climb for third straight month [INFOGRAPHIC]
what the West Point Mint's bullion storage vault looks like
Keep up with all of CoinWorld.com's news and insights by signing
up for our free eNewsletters, liking
us on Facebook, and following us on Twitter. We're also on Instagram!