None (all dates
of this type were struck at the Philadelphia mint)
Designed by Christian Gobrecht,
who completely revised the head of Liberty, making
it smaller, putting her hair up in a bun and braiding
the hair around her forehead and temple. The reverse
is very similar to the preceding, but the eagle appears
to be more ornithologically correct. Edge: reeded.
Standards: weight, 4.18 grams; composition, 90% gold
/ 10% silver and copper; diameter, 18 mm.
In 1840, Christian Gobrecht revised
the design of the quarter eagle, following the pattern
of his earlier makeovers of the eagle in 1838 and
the half eagle in 1839. His head of Liberty proved
to be the most popular and enduring of all the 19th-century
designs-it appeared in various forms on half cents,
large cents, and most gold coins, spanning up to 69
years (in the case of the $10 gold piece)!
The Liberty Head quarter eagle was produced at the
Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dahlonega, New Orleans,
and Charlotte mints. Proofs were made of most years,
although anything prior to 1862 is extremely rare.
Production of coins for circulation remained fairly
consistent at the Philadelphia Mint but was sporadic
at the other mints. Mintages were generally low, especially
at the Southern mints of Dahlonega and Charlotte.
From time to time, Philadelphia produced large quantities
of quarter eagles, especially in 1851, 1852, 1853,
and 1861, when annual mintages climbed to more than
one million coins.
In 1848, the Philadelphia Mint received a small quantity
of gold bullion, freshly discovered in California,
which was converted into 1,389 quarter eagles, each
of which was stamped with the abbreviation CAL. in
the blank field above the eagle's head. These remain
one of the most sought-after quarter eagle dates.
Because of the longevity
of this series, one can expect a number of interesting
rarities and varieties. This type does not disappoint.
Rarities include the 1841 (possibly a Proof-only issue),
the incredibly rare 1854-S, the Proof-only 1863, and
the low-mintage 1875. Varieties include combinations
of Small Dates, Large Dates, Crosslet 4s, and Plain
4s in 1843, and modified reverse designs beginning
1848 No Cal Quarter
Eagle: A careful review of auction data and population
reports clearly indicates that the 1848 Liberty Head
quarter eagle is a scarce issue. The popularity of
the date remains tepid at best. It is far overshadowed
by the ultra popular CAL. variety for the year and
the always in demand Southern issues. Interestingly,
the 1848 quarter eagle is actually much rarer than
the 1848, CAL. Above Eagle variety in Mint State.
Fewer than two dozen coins have been graded in all
states of Uncirculated, with the finest being a lone
MS-64 example. Of the few high-grade examples that
do exist, many have partially striated, prooflike
surfaces. As usual, the eagle's left leg is often
weak. For some unknown reason, the Harry W. Bass Jr.
example sold for $23,000 in October of 1999 and then
resold at auction one year later for only $14,950.
The loss was probably an upgrade plan gone awry.
Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth: Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold
Coins 1795 - 1933