For Whitman Publishing over the next few weeks, I’m putting the final touches on a new reference, A Guide Book of Quarter Eagle Gold Coins. This adds to the roster of gold studies in the “Bowers Series,” which, as of Spring 2019, includes two dozen titles.
Among the different denominations of American gold coins, the $2.50 gold quarter eagles have always been among the most popular with numismatists. The series includes early issues from 1796 to early 1834, skipping many years in which there was no coinage. Today, all of these early dates range from rare to very rare.
Classic Head quarter eagles from 1834 to 1839 introduce coins from the three branch mints opened in 1838 at Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans. All dates and mintmarks in the Classic Head series are readily collectible, although the mintmarked issues are scarcer.
Liberty Head quarter eagles were struck continuously at the Philadelphia Mint from 1840 to 1907. Of particular numismatic interest is the exceedingly rare 1841, nicknamed the “Little Princess.” The Proof-only 1863 and the low-mintage 1875 are two other landmark rarities.
Charlotte and Dahlonega coins with “C” and “D” mint marks were made in the 1840s and 1850s, plus 1860-C. These range from scarce to rare, but all collectible. The first San Francisco Mint quarter eagles were struck in 1854 and only to the extent of 246 coins, adding another rarity to the series. The other issues from 1840 to 1907 are collectible, but there are many scarce and rare issues.
Indian Head quarter eagles 1908 to 1929 are easily enough found, but the 1911-D, while not rare, is scarcer than the others.
Over a long course of years, I have assembled many thousands of auction listings and other citations. I have selected a small percentage of these for inclusion in the upcoming book, nearly all from the 19th and 20th centuries to about 1960, as later descriptions are widely available on the Internet from modern auction sales by Stack’s Bowers Galleries, Heritage Auctions, Ira and Larry Goldberg, and others.
As a special feature in the new book, I have given an expanded selection of pre-2000 listings for one coin: The 1797 quarter eagle. This reflects that many historical descriptions are interesting to read and also show changing philosophies concerning rarity. My presentation of the 1841 “Little Princess” quarter eagle would make a fine monograph in itself.
As you read this book you will learn many details involving politics, gold prices, designs, mintages, the mints themselves, and numismatic information. If you have a good memory, by the time you turn the last page, you should be an expert in quarter eagles!
Enjoy the hobby, and if you see me at the Whitman Baltimore Expo this week, say hello.