1804 Capped Bust Right Quarter Eagle. BD-2. Rarity-4. Die State a/a. 14-Star Reverse. AU-55 (PCGS).
High Grade 1804 Fourteen Star Reverse Quarter Eagle
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Die Variety: The first star is buried in the wing on the upper left reverse. This is the only Scot quarter eagle reverse die with such an obvious "star cross" pattern. Clearly intending to keep the stars in absolute straight lines above the eagle, the engraver lost count, and placed 14 stars instead of the intended 13 stars above. The engraver, while forcing the stars into straight lines above the eagle, had to place one touching the eagle's lower beak, another near the edge of the wing, and the third above too close to the wing with two points buried into the edge. This same reverse die was also used to strike dimes in 1804. Although the stars above the eagle are much smaller than those used on the other "star cross" reverse die used to coin the 1798 BD-1, 4 Berries reverse, it is certainly likely that these two dies were engraved in 1798 when the "star cross" pattern was in use on other denominations. The "star cross" pattern all but disappeared on dies by 1799.
Die State: a/a. This is an early die state of the obverse, struck prior to the crack forming right of the 4. Similar on the reverse where there is no evidence of lapping, clashing, or cracks.
Estimated mintage for the variety: Estimated to be about 90% of the year's production of 3,327 quarter eagles.
Estimated surviving population: 150 to 200 coins.
Strike: The obverse is generally sharp although moderate adjustment marks on the left side soften the dentils somewhat. The reverse dentils are generally softly struck, as usually seen on coins from this die. The eagle's claw clutching the arrows is also rather softly impressed, but the important elements of the shield, wing feathers, scroll, and stars are all bold.
Surfaces: The surfaces are generally attractive all around for the assigned grade. The surfaces are uniform and pleasing yellow gold with a hint of green.
Commentary: All coinage of 1804 is highly desirable, gaining a reflected aura from the key 1804 copper cent and the "King of American Coins," the 1804 dollar.
Q. David Bowers: The early quarter eagles in the Ferrendelli Collection bring back a tinge of nostalgia to me. In the late 1950s Jim Ruddy and I, owners of the Empire Coin Co., bought the beautiful set of 1796 to 1834 coins formed over a long period of years by Oscar G. Schilke of Niantic, Connecticut. The values then were tiny fractions of what such coins bring today. Oscar had all of the Guide Book varieties except the 1804 with 13 reverse stars. The coins from 1796 to 1808 were generally high-grade AU, what might be called MS-60 today. Those from 1821 to 1834 were nearly all Mint State. As was usual, Oscar had a story to tell for each coin -- this one from Leonard Kusterer in Wayte Raymond's office, that one from B. Max Mehl, another from the Stack brothers -- and so it went.
PCGS# 7652. NGC ID: 25F8.
Pedigree: From the Dr. James A. Ferrendelli Collection.
PCGS Population: 8; 37 finer (Mint State-63 finest) for the 14 Star variety.
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