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Mint State 1796 Stars on Obverse Quarter Eagle Offered in our August 2020 Auction

​The Coinage Act of April 2, 1792, authorized the production
of three gold denominations at the newly established United States Mint
including the $10 eagle, $5 half eagle, and the $2.50 quarter eagle. While half
eagle and eagles were first struck in 1795, it would be 1796 before the first
quarter eagles rolled off the presses. The half eagle turned out to be the most
popular of the three denominations for general commerce, while the eagle was
useful for large overseas transactions with Europe. The quarter eagle, however,
did not prove especially useful.

The first 1796 quarter eagles minted featured an obverse
without stars, an unusual choice considering the half eagle and the eagle both
had stars as part of their obverse designs. However, later in the year, stars
were added to the obverse design and further quarter eagles were struck. For
the entire 1796-dated quarter eagle issue, three die pairs using two obverses
and three reverses were employed. Only one set of dies — the BD-3 die marriage
— was required to produce the entire run of 432 Stars on Obverse quarter
eagles.  

As with most early U.S. Mint gold issues, a large quantity
of 1796 quarter eagles ended up in the bullion speculator’s crucibles during
the 1820s and 1830s, leaving only a small quantity for numismatists. The 1796
Stars on Obverse quarter eagle is much rarer than the No Stars variety as a
whole. While the No Stars BD-1 pairing is exceptionally rare, perhaps only a
third as many BD-3 pieces as BD-2 No Stars coins are extant. At most, 40 to 50
of the Stars on Obverse variety are thought to survive, with slightly more than
a dozen at the Mint State level.

We are thrilled to offer an incredible MS-62 (NGC) example
in our August 2020 Auction that ranks among the finest known. The vivid medium
gold surfaces of this piece reveal faint olive undertones and iridescent rose
highlights. Overall, the striking detail is bold to sharp, with the impression
just a tad soft along the left obverse border and at isolated high points on
the reverse. Semi-reflective in the fields with a satiny texture otherwise,
this is a lovely coin that would serve as a highlight in the finest gold
cabinet.

This Mint State 1796 With Stars quarter eagle is a major
highlight of our August sale, accompanying rarities from the Sherwood
Collection of Civil War Tokens, the ESM Collection of Large Cents, selections
from the Anthony J. Taraszka Collection of Early Eagles, selections from the D.
Brent Pogue Collection and many other rarities. The sale is will be available
for bidding and viewing on our website www.StacksBowers.com​, or you may
contact us to secure a copy of the printed catalog. Also, download our mobile
app to view and participate in our auctions via your Android or Apple device.

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