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1796 No Stars. Breen 1, Bass-Dannreuther 2 (R-5)

From Stack's October 2006 New York Auction, Session 2 on Oct 18, 2006

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Categories  •  Stack's October 2006 New York The 71st Anniversary Sale U. S. Quarter Eagles ($2.50 Gold) U. S. Capped Bust Right Quarter Eagles

1796 No Stars. Breen 1, Bass-Dannreuther 2 (R-5). A solid About Uncirculated. The obverse shows lustre...1796 No Stars. Breen 1, Bass-Dannreuther 2 (R-5). A solid About Uncirculated. The obverse shows lustre in the fields and minor hairlines from circulation, the reverse retains more lustre and is quite attractive as well. The strike is bold on all devices, even the 'E' of LIBERTY is clear although far from bold, as this letter has the unfortunate location of being opposite the eagle's tail, and is always found weak to some degree. No adjustment marks are present, which further adds to the desirability of this important and rare issue. On the reverse, the strike is sharp and lustre is present in the fields. Identifiable by a tiny tick in the field below Liberty's chin, and a thin scratch on the edge past the 'Y' of LIBERTY. Conservatively graded as Extremely Fine obverse, About Uncirculated reverse when it last appeared in our Herman Halpern Collection in 1989.

There are unusual traces of the original guide line drawn by a compass or engraving tool at the top of the right wing and 'AMERI', which appear as raised lumps on the coin and were caused by an unskilled hand. These lumps were markers for the engraver to place the tops of the letters in the correct position relative to the denticles and the surrounding letters. The 'C' of AMERICA was adjusted up higher after the initial placement was found to be a touch low, and repunching is seen along the base of that letter. 16 stars were placed in the star field above the eagle's head, representing the 16 states of the Union when these were struck. The reeding is always unevenly applied on these early Quarter Eagles. Research is being done currently by John Dannreuther which may prove that the reeding was applied by a collar during striking as opposed to the Castaing machine prior to striking. Dimes of this period are the same diameter and show similar uneven edge reeding.

The 1796 No Stars Quarter Eagle was the first year of issue for this denomination. As the Philadelphia Mint struggled with design changes of subsidiary coinage, the employee and executive bonding requirements were finally met for gold coinage in 1795. Eagles and Half Eagles were coined in that year, but the Quarter Eagle would not be introduced until 1796. The first style employed a simple obverse of a bust of Liberty, the word 'LIBERTY' above and the date below. No stars were present on the obverse, and it was soon believed that the coins would wear too quickly, so the stars were added to future obverse dies. The number of No Stars Quarter Eagles struck was a mere 963 pieces. A foremost rarity in any grade, first year of issue, and one of the most coveted type coins ever produced by any United States Mint.

Ex Herman Halpern Collection (Stack's, May 1989, lot 42).

Lot # 2026 Session 2
Hammer Price: $131,000.00

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Click to open a larger image - 1796 No Stars. Breen 1, Bass-Dannreuther 2 (R-5). A solid About Uncirculated. The obverse shows lustre... Click to open a larger image - 1796 No Stars. Breen 1, Bass-Dannreuther 2 (R-5). A solid About Uncirculated. The obverse shows lustre...

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