||1796 $2 1/2 Stars AU58 NGC. CAC. BD-3, High R.5. Bass-Dannreuther Die State c. The first-year-of-type 1796 No Stars quarter eagle gets the lion's share of attention for the date and denomination, but the 1796 With Stars quarter eagle is in reality even rarer, grade for grade, than its No Stars counterpart. For years numismatists have believed that the 1796 No Stars was struck to the extent of 963 pieces (including the usually seen BD-2 Normal Arrows reverse and the very rare BD-1 Extended Arrows reverse), along with 432 pieces for the 1796 With Stars, known -- as expected for such a low production figure -- from a single die pair. What is unexpected is how many distinct die states are identified for the 1796 With Stars quarter eagle: John Dannreuther lists five in his reference. The dies apparently cracked early and were lapped, likely more than once, and also clashed together, again possibly multiple times. The U.S. Mint had an extremely difficult time with the early gold coinage dies beginning in 1796, explaining the low mintages overall and likely the small number known of this variety in particular. This near-Mint State NGC-certified example is Die State c, showing die lapping that has weakened the earlier die crack connecting the left-side peripheral stars, but in the process also resulted in some lost detail on the lower hair curls of Liberty. The 1796 With Stars quarter eagle is a one-year type as well, although often unacknowledged as such, showing the only 16 Star Obverse among the early quarter eagles. Mint officials soon realized the folly of continually adding stars after Tennessee was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1796, as the 16th state; coinage dies soon reverted to the 13 Star format, with scattered exceptions. This piece is just a trace of high-point rub away from Mint State. The attractive auburn-gold field colors contrast nicely against the brighter yellow-gold of the raised devices. A small area of planchet adjustment marks appears on the reverse rim, above and behind TAT. A few small field marks appear scattered about, but none are worthy of singular mention. This rare early U.S. gold coin from the first year of quarter eagle production at the U.S. Mint should see abundant collector interest. Ex: Eric P. Newman Numismatic Education Society.
Realized $223250.00. Description courtesy of Heritage Auctions.