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Liberty Head (1840-1907)

1848 Quarter Eagle No Cal.

1848 No Cal Quarter Eagle
1848 NO CAL. $2.5
PCGS No:  
Mintage: 6,500
Circulation strikes: 7,451
Proofs:  
Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Diameter: 17/24" or 18mm
Metal content: 90% gold / 10% silver and copper
Weight: 4.18 grams
Edge: Reeded
Mintmark: 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 in 1859.

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.

1848 $2.5 No Cal. NGC MS61

Courtesy Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth: Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795 - 1933



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1848 No Cal Quarter Eagle - 1848 Liberty Head quarter eagle

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