To view more detailed information on the collection click hereDie Variety: BD-1. No Stars on Obverse.Die State: Die state b/c; one of the later examples known of this extremely rare die pairing -- indeed the rarest in the early series. The reverse die has an approximately bisecting vertical crack splitting the E of STATES down through the eagle's tail on the left side, and is joined by a rather heavy die crack from the edge between the ST of STATES down through reverse stars 1, 9, and the star immediately left of the eagle's neck, into the neck and chest and down into the shield. These cracks likely account for the early retirement of this reverse and the rarity of this die pairing. The obverse went on to produce the BD-2 No Stars variety, survivors of which are comparatively available. This die pairing was the first 1796 quarter eagle variety struck in that year and thus inaugurates the series.Estimated mintage for the variety: Estimated to be 66 coins delivered on September 21, 1796 per a delivery notice, assuming all were from this die pair. In any event the mintage was very low.Estimated surviving population: There are just five or six known examples of this die pairing, with perhaps 100 to 125 examples known all told of the No Stars on Obverse type. BD-1 has been absent from nearly all specialized collections of early quarter eagles. Strike: The strike is sharp throughout with all of the devices and lettering, right down to the dentils, bold. Light wear is seen on the high points from brief circulation as expected for the EF-45 grade assigned. It is noteworthy that the reverse definition is as sharp as it is given the late die state including the two rather heavy cracks.Surfaces: This landmark coin displays outstanding surfaces for an early quarter eagle, as these often have more than the usual number of marks from circulation. Here the wear is smooth on the high points, the color is uniform and offers attractive orange-gold with crimson accents, particularly on the reverse and within the protected areas on the obverse. The fields have a satiny texture and exhibit only minor signs of handling and circulation when closely examined.Commentary: This specimen is approximately tied with one other as the finest seen of this incredibly rare die pairing. The reverse die cracked severely early in the production and was retired, while the obverse die went on to coin the BD-2 No Stars on Obverse variety. The Condition Census of the BD-1 variety is currently 45 (this specimen), 40 Bass Sylloge, 20, 20 net scratched, 20, 8. One of the VF-20 coins noted in this census is from the Gable Collection sold by the S.H. Chapman, May 1914, as lot 358, which is possibly the coin we offer here. As one of the two finest seen of this die variety and with the comparable example held for the long term in the Bass Collection on display at the American Numismatic Association Headquarters in Colorado Springs, it is unlikely that another offering of this variety will be forthcoming any time soon. This die variety is so rare that it was the only 1796 die pairing lacking, across all denominations, in the famous collection of 1796-dated coinage of John Whitney Walter.Q. David Bowers: Although this variety was known to Edgar H. Adams, the leading early 20th century scholar in the field of federal coins, it was not publicized until decades later. It was, in a phrase, too rare -- as even the most knowledgeable catalogers were unaware of it. Harry W. Bass, Jr. had two. We sold his duplicate, a scratched VF coin, in May 2000. There are no auction records from decades past! Collecting early quarter eagles by die varieties is a great challenge, with opportunity being far more important than the price paid -- as emphasized by the fruitless quest by John Whitney Walter. The present lot is one of the most important gold coins to cross the auction block so far in the 21st century.John W. Dannreuther: This variety represents the rarest of the rare! With only five confirmed examples, it is the rarest pre-1808 quarter eagle, even surpassing the more famous 1804 thirteen star variety that has more than double the number of survivors. There are many more famous early gold coins, but there are few that are this rare. This is an opportunity to purchase a legendary rarity that few collectors have had the privilege to own.