US Coins

Noticing details leads to great buy for collector

With a value estimated at perhaps thousands of dollars, this Briggs 1A variety of 1840-O Seated Liberty, With Drapery, Large O quarter dollar was recently acquired from an eBay listing for less than $80.

Images courtesy of Dave Schaefer, LSCC.

Eagle-eyed Seated Liberty quarter dollar collector Dave Schaefer’s attention to detail paid off in a recent eBay online sale for one of the rarest varieties in the series that is known by fewer than 50 examples.

The find, an 1840-O Seated Liberty, With Drapery, Large O quarter dollar estimated to be worth multiples of its acquisition price, is featured in the June 2024 issue of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club’s e-mail newsletter.

Schaefer says he acquired the variety in April for less than $80 using the Buy It Now option after identifying the coin as an example of Briggs-1A as attributed in The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters. The variety was not noted in the eBay listing.

Based on any example’s level of preservation and any problems it may have, Seated Liberty experts suggest values from several hundred to  several thousand dollars.

“This is one of those unattributed and raw eBay Buy it Now finds under the ‘right place/right time’ scenario,” says Schaefer. “Many of us have probably perused eBay at some point during a solitary vacation moment. This was my situation recently as I reviewed eBay with no expectations, until this somehow dropped in my lap.

“At the time I tapped the ‘BIN’ there actually was one ‘watcher’ for the listing — go figure! Seller’s pics have a light gold-ish cast to them, my pics are truer to the coin’s actual cleaned/bright/scratched look in VF [Very Fine/] detail. Despite the issues, I’m more than pleased.”

Seated Liberty expert and researcher Greg Johnson says that when Larry Briggs published his quarter dollar reference in 1991, just 16 Briggs-1A coins were reported, giving the variety a Rarity 6 rating. Current estimates are that between 40 to 50 examples are known across all grades and conditions, with most examples low grade or damaged.

Schaefer’s piece exhibits VF details, has evidence of cleaning and is slightly bent.

Trying to value his coin is a challenge because of the condition variables, according to Schaefer. One dealer he knows is offering an example certified Fine 15 by Professional Coin Grading Service at just under $3,000.

With his coin bearing issues meriting Details grading, Schaefer estimates the value of his coin closer to $2,000 to $2,500.

Johnson’s value assessment differs, as he notes that while an undamaged VF coin would be worth $3,000 or more, value for a coin with damage, as a “wild guess” because of the thinness of the market, might likely drop to between the $500 and $1,000 level.

Briggs-1A illustrates the transitional Obverse 1, which according to Briggs’ reference narrative, shows a curved date slanting down left to right.

Stars 1, 4, 5, and 6, and 9 through 13, are recut. Drapery was added at Liberty’s right elbow.

The transitional reverse die, Reverse A, according to Briggs, illustrates what is commonly called “Mint mark left.” This coin’s Mint mark is a Large O from the New Orleans Mint.

The Mint mark is in line and left of the feather tip, its left edge over the center of the A of QUAR. in the denomination.

The eagle’s claws are very short and sharply curled.

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