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Rare Money Blog

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​The 1849 quarter eagle is a rare and underrated Philadelphia Mint issue from the early days of Christian Gobrecht's Coronet, or Liberty Head, design type. The mintage of 23,294 quarter eagles in 1849 was subject to considerable circulation and attrition upon release, leaving just about 115 survivors across all grades. The vast majority show signs of handling and circulation, with only about 15 remaining in Mint State today.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​The Sheldon-48, Starred Reverse 1794 Liberty Cap cent is one of the most popular, eagerly sought, and also enigmatic varieties in the early large cent series. The reason for including 94 stars on the reverse of this variety has been lost to history although, as with so many other aspects of U.S. numismatics, theories abound.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​In 1820, a quarter dollar was the typical cost for attending theatrical events and similar entertainments in New York City, events that today might cost tens or even hundreds of dollars. Alongside the half dollar, the quarter was a workhorse of everyday commerce and most examples that left the Mint wound up heavily worn within a few years.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​The Proof 1870 quarter eagle is a tremendous rarity in all grades and only an estimated 10 to 12 survivors are known, from a mintage of just 35 examples. Researcher John Dannreuther notes that the first delivery of 25 coins occurred on February 3, while the remaining 10 coins were delivered on June 1. The obverse die was used to strike both the 35 Proofs and the 4,520 circulation-strikes for the year, and very few coins exhibit strong cameo contrast. In addition, most examples are found in grades of Proof-65 and below due to cabinet friction and other imperfections.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​The Proof 1897 Indian cent is an underrated rarity among the late dates from this series. From a mintage of 1,938 pieces, 731 were intended for sale in conjunction with the year's silver Proof sets, while the remaining 1,207 examples went into minor coin Proof sets. Today, the Proof 1897 cent is most often found in grades up to Proof-64, with many having been cleaned or mishandled over the past century. Gems are sold at auction only a couple times per year, and those with any traces of Cameo contrast are incredibly rare.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​Fugio coppers have long captured the imagination of numismatists as one of the first federally sanctioned coinages of the United States. In April 1787, the Continental Congress authorized the coinage of copper cents equivalent in weight to British halfpence and bearing a design inspired by Benjamin Franklin's sundial and thirteen links motifs that appeared on the fractional Continental Currency notes of February 17, 1776.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​Shield nickels are a largely underappreciated series among 19th century U.S. coinage. They represent America’s inaugural attempt at a nickel five-cent coin, a format that remains a staple in daily commerce to the present day. First introduced in 1866 upon the conclusion of the Civil War, the Shield nickel was issued for just 17 years but produced a tremendous amount of fascinating and rare varieties.

By James McCartney, Senior Numismatist and Consignment Director

​The 1905 Liberty Head half eagle is an underrated 20th century issue that is desirable at all levels of preservation. A mintage of only 302,200 makes it scarcer than many late-date issues, representing a steep drop from the 392,000 Philadelphia strikes of 1904. While readily available in lower Mint State grades, the 1905 is seldom encountered finer than MS-65 and PCGS estimates just 55 distinct specimens survive in Gem and above.

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