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Proof Quarter Eagles - Proof Indian Quarter Eagles - Proof Gold Coins
Proof Quarter Eagle

 

Reich’s Capped Head Proof Quarter Eagle (1821-1834): In 1808 John Reich designed a capped draped bust quarter eagle. This one-year type is extremely rare and there was no proof mintage. However, in 1821 Robert Scot, despite advanced age and failing eyesight, designed a quarter eagle, which resembles Reich’s earlier design.

The new Liberty faces left wearing a smaller Phrygian cap inscribed with LIBERTY. She is surrounded by thirteen stars with the date below. Because the effigy is truncated at the neck, the head is larger than on the previous issue. Also the stars form a complete arc above Liberty, unlike the 1808 design where the cap interrupted them. The reverse is similar to the 1808 issue. It shows a heraldic eagle facing left holding arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is interrupted by the wing tips and arcs above. The denomination 2½ D. is below. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is on a ribbon that arcs from one wing tip to the other. Dentils are near the edge on both sides of the coin.

In 1823 Robert Scot died, and the Mint hired William Kneass to take his place. Kneass was a bank-note engraver. He was hired to improve the existing designs of all coinage series. In 1829 he did this for the quarter eagle. The new design had smaller stars, smaller letters, a redrawn Liberty, and a redrawn eagle. It also had a high, plain raised rim because of the use of a closed collar. The new collar imparted a reeded edge and gave the coins a standard diameter.

Although the Red Book, A Guide Book of United States Coins, lists no proof coins for the Capped Head quarter eagle, they were made in each year. All are prohibitively rare. Few survived without being impaired. Most likely many were spent during the “Hard Times” of 1837 to 1844. The total proof mintage is estimated to be fewer than 150 coins.

The census reports of both major grading services show the following population numbers for proof coins: 1821 (6), 1822 to 1830 none, 1831 (5), 1832 none, 1833 (3), and 1834 none. These numbers may be even smaller because of resubmissions and crossovers.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 4.37 grams (67.439 grains) (.1405 troy ounces)
Diameter: (1821-1827) 19 millimeters; (1829-1834) 18.2 millimeters
Composition: 91.67% gold; 8.33% copper
Gold Content: 4.006 grams (61.822 grains) (.1288 troy ounces)

Kneass’ Proof Quarter Eagle 1834 to 1839: William Kneass designed the quarter eagle known as the Classic Head. The obverse is similar to the Large Cents of 1808 to 1814. Liberty faces left, her hair loosely tied with a band on which is inscribed LIBERTY. She is surrounded by thirteen stars with the date below. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle similar to the previous Capped Bust issue. Dentils surround the designs of both sides of the coin.

The weight, fineness, and size were reduced from the previous issue because old gold coins were going to bullion dealers who shipped them out for melting. The essential visual difference is that the banner with E PLURIBUS UNUM has been omitted. This change was made so the new coins would be immediately identified.

On January 29, 1824 William Kneass was appointed Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. Before his appointment, he had a careed as a book illustrator doing engravings. He died in 1840, and Christian Gobrecht, who had been his assistant, became the Engraver.

In 1835 the portrait of Liberty was made taller than before. In the following year there were three different varieties, the head that was used in 1834, the redesigned one of 1835, and a new one that would be used again in 1837. In 1838 the head was slightly modified again.

No proof issues are listed in the Red Book A Guide Book of United States Coins for the Kneass quarter eagles. However, researchers have identified approximately 50 for the entire series. Both major grading services show a combined total of 30 proof coins, and this number does not account for resubmissions and crossovers. Needless to say, any proof quarter eagle of this type is an extremely rare coin.

The dates and quantities that have been certified by both services are as follows: 1834 (12), 1835 (2), 1836 (7), 1836 [head of 1835] (2), 1837 (1), 1838 none, 1839 (3).

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 4.18 grams (64.5 grains) (.1344 troy ounces)
Diameter: 17.5 millimeters (Note: The Red Book A Guide Book of United States Coins incorrectly lists the diameter as 18.2 millimeters.)
Composition: (1834 to 1836) 89.92% gold, 10.08% copper
(1837 to 1839) 90.00% gold, 10.00% copper
Gold Content: (1834 to 1836) 3.759 grams (58.00 grains) (.1208 troy ounces)
(1837 to 1839) 3.762 grams (58.049 grains) (.1209 troy ounces)

Gobrecht's Proof Quarter Eagles 1840-1907: Christian Gobrecht's Quarter Eagle was produced without substantial modification from 1840 to 1907, the longest span in any United States coinage series. It uses the Coronet design which shows Liberty facing left, her hair tied tightly in beads, except for two curls one down the back of her neck and the other on the side below her ear, with LIBERTY inscribed on the coronet. She is surrounded by thirteen stars, and the date is below the truncation. The reverse shows the heraldic eagle facing left holding arrows and olive branch it its talons. The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA arcs around it, interrupted by the wing tips, and the denomination 2 ½ D. is below. The denomination is separated from the legend with dots. The weight remained the same, but the diameter was reduced from the previous issue to 18 millimeters.

The coinage act of 1865 specified that motto IN GOD WE TRUST should be added to all coins large enough to accommodate it. The Mint interpreted this law to mean that the motto had to be added to silver coins larger than the dime and gold half eagles, eagles and double eagles. Because of its size, the quarter eagle was exempt.

Beginning in 1859 a modified reverse design was used on business strike and proof Philadelphia coins. It had smaller letters and arrowheads. Some pieces in 1859, 60, and 61 were struck with the old design after the change was made.

As an anti-counterfeiting device, these coins were completely hubbed except for the date and mint mark. The dates were entered by hand. In 1873 a new 3 was used because the old one was the “closed 3” and was easily mistaken for an 8.

In 1848 an excess of gold came from California to Philadelphia for coinage. Coins from this gold deposit were struck with the abbreviation CAL on the reverse above the eagle. Proofs are extremely rare. Forgeries have been made by privately punching CAL into regular 1848’s. Some proof-like pieces have been sold as proofs. Three proofs are said to have been in the Longacre estate; although, NGC and PGCS have none reported.

The Red Book, A Guide Book of United States Coins, lists no proof coins until 1859. Yet the grading services have 41 listed. Of course, this number probably contains duplication because of resubmissions and crossovers. The first year, 1840, had 1 listed. The most in these early years was in 1841 with 15. Both 1842 and 1847 had none listed. For the next decade, the proof mintage numbers ranged from 25 to 112, the grading services show 8 to 30 reported. The proof coins of 1863, with a combined population 12, are exceedingly rare because it is a proof only year and no business strikes were made. (Forgeries of the 1863 proof coin were made by altering the 8 of an 1868 or by removing the mint mark from a 1863-S.) The mintage numbers remain low in the 70’s but climb to a high of 349 in 1900, after which they taper off to 154 for the last year. The population reports show 10 to 30 coins for the decade of the 70’s. For the 80’s the populations range from 28 to 66. The 90’s show 42 to 220, and the Twentieth Century dates show 94 to 349.

Examples of eighties proof are the 1885 and 1898. The original mintage for 1885 was 87. NGC reports 23 in all grades and PGCS shows 18. For 1898 there was a mintage of 165. NGC reported 91 proofs in all grades.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 4.18 grams (64.5 grains) (.1344 troy ounces)
Diameter: 18 millimeters
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: 3.762 grams (58.049 grains) (.1209 troy ounces)

Pratt’s Indian Head Proof Quarter Eagles 1908-1929: Bela Lyon Pratt, a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens designed this coin and the similar half eagle. They were different from what had preceded in that the designs were incused. The background of the prior issues had become the foreground. The design was sunk into the field and shown in relief. The design was not popular with the public. As soon as they were issued, objections were made. It was said that the incused features would retain dirt and the coins would be unsanitary. They were also too easily counterfeited and couldn’t be stacked, and the design was not natural.

In 1905 William Bigelow, an art connoisseur and friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, was sent to evaluate a large art collection that was donated to the government. Following this project, Roosevelt sought Bigelow’s advice on coinage designs. Bigelow commissioned his friend Bela Lyon Pratt to make the new coins. Pratt had studied under Saint-Gaudens and was also his assistant. In 1890, at the suggestion of Saint-Gaudens, he went to study in Paris at the Ecole des Beau Arts, where he received many awards for his work. In 1893 he returned to America where he sculpted for the Columbian Exposition. Later he became an instructor at the Boston Museum School.

His works include a medal for Harvard President Eliot, a bicentennial medal for Yale University, a figure for the Sears Monument in Cambridge, and many other sculptures, busts, and medals. At the Panama-Pacific Exposition in 1915, he had an exhibit of seventeen pieces that won a gold medal.

The quarter eagle design was similar to his half eagle. He chose an authentic looking Native American head in profile looking left wearing a realistic headdress. Above is the word LIBERTY and below is the date. Six stars are on the left and seven are on the right. The reverse, in homage to Saint-Gaudens, shows the standing eagle facing left. Below it are arrows and an olive branch. E PLURIBUS UNUM is in the left field and IN GOD WE TRUST is in the right. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, separated by dots, arcs above the eagle, and the denomination 2 ½ DOLLARS is below. The mint mark on the reverse was the highest point and it showed wear first.

The Pratt quarter eagles were issued from 1908 to 1915 and from 1925 to 1929; however, no proofs were minted in the years 1925 to 1929. In total 1,827 proof coins of this design were issued from 1908 to 1915. Both major grading services show a combined total of 1001 proof coins for all dates. In 1908 236 matte proof coins were made. Although not very popular, many were probably saved because of the newness of the design. The combined total of both grading services shows 220 for the first date. In 1909 139 were minted and 80 are reported by NGC and PGCS. The largest proof mintage was 682 in 1910. Of that number only 170 have been reported. In 1912 197 were minted. Of those, 83 have been reported. In 1913 165 were minted. Of those, 90 have been reported. The next to last year, 1914, was also the next to smallest mintage with 117. The grading services reported 117 for that year. The last year was the smallest mintage. With 100 coins minted only 74 have been reported by both services. It is important to note that these numbers are probably lower because of duplication caused by resubmission.

Specifications:
Edge: Reeded
Weight: 4.18 grams (64.5 grains) (.1344 troy ounces)
Diameter: 18 millimeters
Composition: 90% gold, 10% copper
Gold Content: 3.762 grams (58.049 grains) (.1209 troy ounces)
DATE NOTES
1821 Proof Quarter Eagle
1821 $2.50 Capped Head To Left, Large Diameter. This is the inaugural proof issue for the quarter eagle series. Exact mintage data is not known for this year but it is extremely rare, as are all proofs of this type, and it is estimated that only 4-5 pieces are in existence today. This issue has been scarcely seen offered over the past three decades at auction.
1824 Proof Quarter Eagle
1824 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter, 4 over 1. Truly proof coins from this year are all but unknown with a single pristine example residing in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. However, there are several examples known which exhibit proof obverses and business strike reverses.
1825 Proof Quarter Eagle
1825 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter. Experts conflict on whether or not this issue even exists at all with the greatest estimate being no more than 2 known. The famed Eliasberg example has even been debated as to whether or not it was indeed a proof or rather a polished coin.
1826 Proof Quarter Eagle
1826 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter, 6 over 5. No existing issues from this year have been certified by a grading service. Mintage data is not confirmed but of the original pieces believed produced it appears that none have survived. None have appeared in the marketplace in decades and those seen prior cannot be confirmed as true proofs.
1827 Proof Quarter Eagle
1827 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Large Diameter. As with the 1826 issue, none are known to exist from this year. A single, one-sided proof example has been seen but no true proofs have been verified.
1829 Proof Quarter Eagle
1829 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter. It is estimated that 5-7 of this issue still exist today. However, the last piece traded at auction in 1982 so their appearance in the marketplace is extremely infrequent. It should also be noted that due to technological advances this is the first year that proofs were struck which were easily identified as such.
1830 Proof Quarter Eagle
1830 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter. As with other early quarter eagles, many examples from this year are proof like in nature and confused with true proofs of which possibly only 2 are known. It should be noted that there is not a single proof example held in the National Numismatic Collection attesting to the rarity of this issue.
1831 Proof Quarter Eagle
1831 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter. Like other early dates from this series, proof like business strikes do exist. The estimate of true proofs is 3-4 pieces. This is one of the few early proof quarter eagles to have recently appeared at auction as an NGC PR-63 example fetched $74,750 at auction in April 2009.
1832 Proof Quarter Eagle
1832 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter. A mere 2 pieces are the most generous estimate of this date by experts. Mintage figures are unknown but the last piece purported to be a genuine 1832 proof came to auction 60+ years ago.
1833 Proof Quarter Eagle
1833 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter. The Elias berg specimen, in PF66 condition traded hands in 1982 and is the last time this issue was seen on the market. A gem cameo coin resides at the Smithsonian Institution and potentially one or two more exist. Yet another extremely rare coin from the proof quarter eagle series.
1834 Proof Quarter Eagle, With Motto
1834 $2.50 Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter, With Motto. The 1834 issue stands out as unique because both proofs and business strikes from this year are very rare. No proofs have been certified of this date and in the last two decades no coin claiming to be a proof has seen the open market.
1834 Proof Quarter Eagle, No Motto
1834 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. 1834 saw the conclusion of the Capped Head to Left, Reduced Diameter, No Motto quarter eagle and the birth of the Classic Head, No Motto on Reverse version. The latter is of lighter weight than its predecessor and is the type that was included in the famed King of Siam Proof Set. Estimates of its surviving population are a relatively robust 7-11 pieces as this is the first proof quarter eagle to find the auction block at least occasionally over the past 20 years.
1835 Proof Quarter Eagle
1835 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. Experts seem to agree that this issue has four known survivors. The last to trade publicly was the Pittman coin sold in May 1988 for $176,000. The others are a PR64 example housed in the National Numismatic Collection, the Eliasberg specimen now on display at the ANA headquarters as part of the Bass Collection, and a final piece last sold publicly in 1954.
1836 Proof Quarter Eagle
1836 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. As with other early quarter eagle proof gold coins, no exact mintage data is available for this date. Survival estimates are from 5-7 pieces. Included in this number is a deep cameo PR66 piece in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution as well as famous pedigreed examples from the Pittman, Bass, and Colonel E.H.R. Green collections. It should be noted that the 1836 issues are seen weakly struck in the center.
1837 Proof Quarter Eagle
1837 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. Just 2 pieces from this date are believed to exist placing this issue on equal footing with the rarest of the rare in proof United States gold coins. The last sale of one of these at auction was in 2003 when a PCGS PR66 (CA) graded specimen fetched an impressive $241,500. This coin is pedigreed to both the Elias berg and Bass collections. The other resides at the Smithsonian Institution.
1838 Proof Quarter Eagle
1838 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. There is some dispute as to whether this coin even exists. However, a lone proof example resides in the Harry Bass collection currently on display at the American Numismatic Association. As of this writing, not others are known.
1839 Proof Quarter Eagle
1839 $2.50 Classic Head, No Motto On Reverse. Prior to the 1980’s, this coin was not confirmed to exist. At this time, 3-4 examples are estimated to have survived. Adding to its claims to rarity is the fact that there is no example in the esteemed National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. In the last decade, there have been two auction sightings of this date, presumably the same example.
1840 Proof Quarter Eagle
1840 $2.50 Liberty Head. 1840 saw another design change for the quarter eagle and the Liberty Head type was produced. As with earlier types, there are no hard mintage figures from this year. Opinions vary on survival numbers but the only confirmed proof example resides in the Smithsonian Institution. The whereabouts of other rumored examples, as many as 3, are unknown.
1841 Proof Quarter Eagle
1841 $2.50 Liberty Head. It is widely held that only proofs were struck this year and with a surviving population of just 15-20 pieces that makes this date an ultra rarity. There is much conjecture about the circumstances in which only proofs would have been produced and while no absolute answers have been uncovered, the fact remains that no business strike specimens have surfaced. Any quarter eagles known from this year display the characteristics of proof coinage regardless of the presence of any wear. Several appearances of this date have been seen at auction with prices escalating each time.
1842 Proof Quarter Eagle
1842 $2.50 Liberty Head. With just a single piece known, this date is yet another in the long list of extremely rare coins found in the proof quarter eagle series. That specimen, originally taken from the United States Mint cabinet now resides at the Smithsonian Institution.
1843 Proof Quarter Eagle
1843 $2.50 Liberty Head. There is no official mintage data for this date but no more than 5 are believed to exist to this day. Two of these were included in complete 1843 Proof Sets. Another is housed at the Smithsonian Institution.
1844 Proof Quarter Eagle
1844 $2.50 Liberty Head. Just 2 proof quarter eagles of this date are known. One resides as part of the National Numismatic Collection in the Smithsonian Institution and the other is the Pittman example.
1845 Proof Quarter Eagle
1845 $2.50 Liberty Head. Yet another very rare issue from the quarter eagle series. Only 3 or 4 examples of this date are known with one of those being a permanent part of the National Numismatic Collection. The last specimen that publicly traded hands was in July 2004 at auction.
1846 Proof Quarter Eagle
1846 $2.50 Liberty Head. Two examples of this date are held in permanent collections at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Numismatic Society, respectively. Beyond that, possibly no more than two others exist and are held in private hands. Its last public appearance was a PR63 specimen sold at auction in 1991.
1847 Proof Quarter Eagle
1847 $2.50 Liberty Head. A lone example of this extremely rare date is part of the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution. None are known to have traded publicly.
1848 Proof Quarter Eagle, NO CAL
1848 $2.50 Liberty Head. Three examples of this date are known to exist with one of those being at the Smithsonian Institution. The others are the Pittman and Trompeter examples which have been seen traded publicly in the past decade. All proofs from this year exhibit a minor die chip on Liberty’s neck which is not evident on business strikes.
1849 Proof Quarter Eagle
1849 $2.50 Liberty Head. The very existence of this date is disputed by experts. No confirmed examples are known as of this writing.
1850 Proof Quarter Eagle
1850 $2.50 Liberty Head. A single example of this coin was uncovered in Europe in the early 1980’s and last traded hands in 1995. This should be noted as it not unreasonable to expect that other examples of rare date United States gold coins may eventually be located.
1851 Proof Quarter Eagle
1851 $2.50 Liberty Head. The very existence of this date is disputed by experts. No confirmed examples are known as of this writing.
1852 Proof Quarter Eagle
1852 $2.50 Liberty Head. The very existence of this date is disputed by experts. No confirmed examples are known as of this writing.
1853 Proof Quarter Eagle
1853 $2.50 Liberty Head. The very existence of this date is disputed by experts. No confirmed examples are known as of this writing.
1854 Proof Quarter Eagle
1854 $2.50 Liberty Head. This is another date represented by a single surviving example. This coin was first seen in 1976 when it was offered in the American Numismatic Association sale. The coin currently resides in the Harry W. Bass Collection which is on loan to the ANA.
1855 Proof Quarter Eagle
1855 $2.50 Liberty Head. This date is also in dispute as to its existence. Experts differ on whether any were struck at all with the most liberal estimate being possibly 2 examples. This has not been confirmed.
1856 Proof Quarter Eagle
1856 $2.50 Liberty Head. Of the original mintage it is estimated that 3-4 examples of this date have survived. In that number are the piece held at the Smithsonian Institution as well as the Eliasberg example which last traded in 2002.
1857 Proof Quarter Eagle
1857 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 2-3 pieces. One of these is part of the National Numismatic Collection and another is the Trompeter specimen. A third piece is rumored to exist but is unconfirmed.
1858 Proof Quarter Eagle
1858 $2.50 Liberty Head. This marks the final year in the series where mintage numbers are unknown. Survival estimates are 4-6 coins. One of these is in the Smithsonian Institution and another is in the American Numismatic Society Collection reducing the population available to collectors/investors even further. Despite that fact, this date has appeared at auction several times in the past decade.
1859 Proof Quarter Eagle

1859 $2.50 Liberty Head. Despite the recorded mintage of this date it is excessively scarce. Clearly the vast majority of this issue was melted over the years as survival estimates are less than 10 pieces known today. It has sporadically shown up at auction as recently as 2005. 1859 Proof Quarter Eagle

1860 Proof Quarter Eagle

1860 $2.50 Liberty Head. The largest recorded mintage of quarter eagles to date does not make this issue readily available. Quite to the contrary it is estimated that only 10% or less of that number survive. The last specimen to appear at auction was in 2000. Two design elements that should be noted on proofs are the use of the new reverse as well as a sharply downward slanting date biased to the right. 1860 Proof Quarter Eagle

1861 Proof Quarter Eagle

1861 $2.50 Liberty Head. Despite the eruption of the Civil War, the United States again issued proof gold quarter eagle coins in 1861. This first Civil War issue in the series has a surviving population estimated at no more than 20 pieces and is only infrequently seen on the market. Proof issues from this year were all struck with the New Reverse and are hairlined lightly. Civil War coinage, especially gold coinage, is always popular and in demand with collectors/investors making this a highly sought after issue. 1861 Proof Quarter Eagle, 1861 Civil War Date Quater Eagle NGC AU58CAC

1862 Proof Quarter Eagle
1862 $2.50 Liberty Head. As hopes for a quick resolution faded and the divided nation settled into bloody struggle, the United States Mint issued the second Civil War quarter eagle proof coin. This issue had a much reduced mintage from the prior year but survived in roughly the same numbers at 15-20 pieces. Civil War coinage, especially gold coinage, is always popular and in demand with collectors/investors making this a highly sought after issue.
1863 Proof Quarter Eagle
1863 $2.50 Liberty Head. During the third year of the Civil War, no business strike quarter eagles were minted making the proof the only issue in the series to bear this date. The result is an extremely scarce, popular, and sought after rare coin. Of the original mintage, 20 or less are believed to survive today. This combination of factors has resulted in strong market demand for any examples and very strong prices. In 2007, an NGC PR66 (DC) example sold at auction for $149,500.
1864 Proof Quarter Eagle

1864 $2.50 Liberty Head. The fourth Civil War proof quarter eagle is no less rare than the others in the sub-series. Even though mintage was increased, the surviving population for this date is approximately the same as the others at 20-25 pieces. Though business strikes were issued in 1864, they are scarce and so there is also added demand for this issue by the date collector. This is another issue seldom seen in the market which always commands strong bids at auction. 1864 Proof Quarter Eagle

1865 Proof Quarter Eagle

1865 $2.50 Liberty Head. 1865 saw the end of five long bloody years of Civil War and the United States preserved as a single nation. It also saw the issuance of the fifth and final Civil War quarter eagle proof gold coin. The survival estimate for this issue is 17-20 examples remaining, with a good number of these preserved in less than gem proof condition. Civil War coinage, especially gold coinage, is always popular and in demand with collectors/investors making this a highly sought after issue. 1865 Proof Quarter Eagle

1866 Proof Quarter Eagle
1866 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1866 $2.50 Liberty Head. The first proof quarter eagle of the post Civil War era has proven to be quite elusive. Survival estimates are 22-25 pieces of the original mintage. In the past decade, a mere handful of these have seen the market.
1867 Proof Quarter Eagle
1867 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1867 $2.50 Liberty Head. While the mintage of this date is nearly twice that of the 1866 issue, it survives only in slightly greater numbers with estimates placing it at some 30 or so pieces known. As a result, this date appears on the market with much the same infrequency as the aforementioned date.
1868 Proof Quarter Eagle
1868 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1868 $2.50 Liberty Head. This issue has one of the lowest mintages of the 1860’s yet survives in roughly the same numbers as many of the dates with estimates placing the remaining population at 18-20 examples. This is yet another date seen only occasionally in the market over the last two decades.
1869 Proof Quarter Eagle
1869 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1869 $2.50 Liberty Head. The final proof quarter eagle of the decade is represented by an estimated 20 surviving pieces of which at least some are of less than gem proof quality. In the past decade a handful of pieces ranging from PR62 to Pr64 have made it to auction.
1870 Proof Quarter Eagle
1870 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1870 $2.50 Liberty Head. There is some dispute amongst experts as to the true remaining population of this issue. Some estimates are from 22-25 pieces while others are more conservative believing it to be more in the range of 12-15 examples. What is known for sure is that in the past two decades this coin has been quite scarce with only a handful making it into the major auctions.
1871 Proof Quarter Eagle
1871 Proof Quarter Eagle. 1871 $2.50 Liberty Head. As is common with proof quarter eagles of this era, this issue is quite elusive with perhaps 12-15 known to exist. Despite this fact, over the past 5 years at least a few of these have indeed been traded in the market. This should be seen as an anomaly and any offering of this date should garner attention.
1872 Proof Quarter Eagle
1872 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are from 12-20 coins which may or may not be influenced by grading service resubmissions which always must be considered when ultra rare coin populations are discussed. Regardless, this issue is only seen occasionally at auction. At least two examples reside in the National Numismatic Collection and the American Numismatic Society Collection respectively.
1873 Proof Quarter Eagle
1873 $2.50 Liberty Head, Close 3. Business strikes of this date come in both Open 3 and Close 3 types but all proof issues are of the latter variety. Typical of proof gold quarter eagles from this era, this date has a surviving population estimated to be 18-20 pieces. It should be noted that some business strikes exhibit proof like qualities.
1874 Proof Quarter Eagle
1874 $2.50 Liberty Head. Some 15 or so examples of this issue are estimated to exist. Of that number, one resides in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the other is part of the American Numismatic Society Collection. Pedigreed pieces from the Eliasberg, Bass, and Trompeter Collections have seen the auction block in the past two decades.
1875 Proof Quarter Eagle
1875 $2.50 Liberty Head. A scant 400 circulation strikes minted in addition to the proofs make any quarter eagle dated 1875 extremely popular with collectors. Though population reports are inflated by resubmissions, it is estimated 12-15 proofs survive to this day. Prices are always very strong for this date when seen at auction as well.
1876 Proof Quarter Eagle
1876 $2.50 Liberty Head. This issue has a fairly liberal surviving population relative to the other dates in the decade with estimates of 28-30 pieces still remaining. Surprisingly though, it is no more commonly seen in the market than the others and has surfaced less than a half dozen times at auction since 2000.
1877 Proof Quarter Eagle
1877 $2.50 Liberty Head. 12-14 examples of this issue are believed to survive today from the original coins struck. A significant number of these are flawed in some way. No firm reasons are known for this but perhaps many of them saw circulation or were mishandled. Accordingly, superb gem coins from this date warrant particular attention.
1878 Proof Quarter Eagle
1878 $2.50 Liberty Head. Ever popular with collectors of proof quarter eagles, this date has a mere 10-12 pieces known today. Two of these reside in the National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution and the American Numismatic Society Collection respectively. Of the pieces in private hands, such famous pedigrees as Pittman and Bass are represented. Any offering of this date is notable as only a handful trade hands in a given decade.
1879 Proof Quarter Eagle
1879 $2.50 Liberty Head. This is yet another rare coin from a rare series. Perhaps 20-25 of the original mintage have survived but this issue is no more commonly seen on the market than other scarcer date proof quarter eagles. A PR64 cameo example resides in the Smithsonian Institution as part of the National Numismatic Collection.
1880 Proof Quarter Eagle
1880 $2.50 Liberty Head. Mintage for this year edged higher than the previous three years. Likewise survival estimates are a bit larger as well at 28-30 pieces. However, this issue is seen at auction with the same frequency as other issues from the decade.
1881 Proof Quarter Eagle
1881 $2.50 Liberty Head. The 1881 issue is seen with a bit more frequency in the market than the previously issued proof quarter eagles. Examples may come to auction once or twice per year. It is estimated that as many as 35 of the original mintage still survive. Of that number, grades vary widely and superb gems should garner particular attention.
1882 Proof Quarter Eagle
1882 $2.50 Liberty Head. The surviving population of this date is believed to be 40-45 pieces. Far from common, this date is seen somewhat more frequently than the issues from the previous decade. It should be noted that many circulation strikes from this year are proof like and historically may have been mistaken as true proofs.
1883 Proof Quarter Eagle
1883 $2.50 Liberty Head. Each year a few specimens from this date appear at auction making it more readily available than earlier issues. Survival estimates are 45-50 pieces remaining from the original mintage. Most proofs from this year display mirrored fields and cameo devices. It should be noted that proof like circulation strikes exist as well for this date.
1884 Proof Quarter Eagle
1884 $2.50 Liberty Head. It is believed there are 35-45 pieces remaining from the original mintage for this date. True 1884 proofs are commonly seen with cameo devices and deeply mirrored fields. Another feature typical of this issue is the presence of minor random lint marks. An interesting bit of numismatic trivia is that the famed Bass collection contained 3 examples of this date!
1885 Proof Quarter Eagle
1885 $2.50 Liberty Head. With 40-45 survivors in the hobby today, this issue is found with about the same regularity as the other early 1880’s issues. One characteristic unique to this date is the presence of a substantial number of examples displaying marks and even hints of wear. This points to the fact that for some still unexplained reason many saw circulation. Therefore, gem condition proofs are very rare.
1886 Proof Quarter Eagle
1886 $2.50 Liberty Head. While still a very scarce coin, this date was seen in the market a half dozen times in 2009 making it more readily available than the prior issues within the series. Despite that fact, the survival estimates for this date are not dissimilar from other 1880’s issues at 45-50 coins. It is an interesting side note that the famous Eliasberg Collection did not possess a proof specimen from this date.
1887 Proof Quarter Eagle
1887 $2.50 Liberty Head. In 1887 the proof quarter eagle was minted in excess of the century mark for the first time since before the Civil War. While mintage had risen significantly, the number of pieces still in existence is only marginally greater than previous years at 56-60. The presence of minor lint marks resulting from die polishing is found on many examples.
1888 Proof Quarter Eagle
1888 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 55-60 pieces from the original coins struck. In the past two years a handful of specimens have made it to auction in PR63-PR65 grades making this coin at least somewhat more available than most proof gold quarter eagles.
1889 Proof Quarter Eagle
1889 $2.50 Liberty Head. Strangely this year saw a dramatic reduction in the number of proof gold quarter eagles minted to levels not seen in a decade. Just as inexplicable is the fact that mintage was increased the following year to numbers akin to 1888. Whatever the reason, this makes the 1889 a sleeper within the series as the surviving population is 30-35 pieces.
1890 Proof Quarter Eagle
1890 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 50 to 60. True proofs, as opposed to prooflike business strikes, show the date slanting upward to the right, with the left base of 1 in the date left of center and horizontal die-polishing lines visible in MERIC. A proof 64 and a proof 61 sold in a January 2011 Tampa, FL FUN coin auction lot #’s 5041 & 6761.
1891 Proof Quarter Eagle
1891 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are about 40 known in all grades. Bases of 891 are faintly recut. The date is high. The reverse does not have the shift on OF AMERICA, which is seen on business strikes. They were sold as part of four-piece Gold Proof Sets and they were also available individually for $2.75. A proof 66 DC sold in a January 2011 Tampa, FL FUN coin auction lot # 5042.
1892 Proof Quarter Eagle
1892 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 50 to 75 known in all grades. The date is shifted to the left. The left base of the 1 almost touches the center of a defective dentil. The 2 is close to the end of the truncation. A proof 62 cameo sold in the January 2110 Orlando, FL FUN auction, lot # 3872.
1893 Proof Quarter Eagle
1893 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 50 to 75 known in all grades. The lower knobs of an extra 93 are seen to the left of the bases of the 93 in the date. A proof 64 DC sold in the December 2009 Houston, TX US Coin Auction, lot # 1569.
1894 Proof Quarter Eagle
1894 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 60 to 80 known in all grades. The date is centered. The left base of the 1 is close to the right edge of a dentil. A small wart on Liberty’s chin fades. The reverse shows scattered die file marks around the edge of the shield. A proof 66 coin sold in the January 2010 Orlando, FL FUN auction, lot # 2109.
1895 Proof Quarter Eagle
1895 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 60 to 80 known in all grades. The date slants up to the right. The left base of 1 in the date is to the right of the center of a dentil. The same dies were used on all the proofs and some business strikes. Other business strikes have a higher date. A proof 65 deep cameo sold in the August 2010 Boston, MA ANA auction, lot # 3433.
1896 Proof Quarter Eagle
1896 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 60 to 80 known in all grades. The date is far to the right with the knob of the 6 close to the end of the truncation. A proof 65 sold in the November, 2010 Baltimore auction, lot # 4916.
1897 Proof Quarter Eagle
1897 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 80 known in all grades. Two tiny dots are found in the center at the ear. The date is slightly below center, and the left base of the 1 of 1897 is to the left of center of the dentil. A proof 66 cameo sold in the November 2010 Stack’s 75th Anniversary Sale auction, lot # 6919.
1898 Proof Quarter Eagle
1898 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are 80 to 100 known. The date is to the right of center. A proof 64 deep cameo coin sold in the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5043.
1899 Proof Quarter Eagle
1899 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 100 known in all grades. There are two varieties. The first has a centered date. The left base of the 1 of 1899 is over the right edge of a dentil. In the second variety the date slants up. There is a die file mark through TY and many others in the second stripe. A proof 64 cameo sold in an August Boston, MA ANA auction, lot # 5836.
1900 Proof Quarter Eagle
1900 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 160 known in all grades. The base of the 1 and parts of the 9 are repunched. A die file mark is seen down from the base of the T. The left base of the 1 is almost over the right edge of a dentil. A proof 61 cameo sold at auction in October, 2010 at the Stamford Coinfest Signature US Coin Auction, lot # 4674.
1901 Proof Quarter Eagle
1901 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 160 known in all grades. The date is central. The left base of the first 1 is left of center of a dentil. There is a minute die chip on the temple and scattered crisscross die file marks on the shield. A proof 69 deep cameo sold at the Stack’s 75th Anniversary Sale in November, 2010, lot # 6925.
1902 Proof Quarter Eagle
1902 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 150 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 113 could have been sold in gold proof sets. A proof 60 sold in the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 6763.
1903 Proof Quarter Eagle
1903 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 150 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 96 could have been sold in gold proof sets. There are two varieties seen. They are with and without die file marks at 6:00 to 8:00 at the obverse border. A proof 62 sold at auction in January, 2011 at the Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 6764.
1904 Proof Quarter Eagle
1904 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 130 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 98 could have been sold in gold proof sets. There is a center dot at the ear with a date that is low and to the left. On another variety the date slants up and to the right. The base of the 4 is recut. A proof 62 cameo sold at auction in November, 2010 at Stack’s 75th Anniversary Sale, lot # 6934.
1905 Proof Quarter Eagle
1905 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 120 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 86 could have been sold in gold proof sets. A low date slants up to the right. The left base of the 1 is over the center of a dentil. The reverse shows scattered die file marks in the shield. A proof 60 coin sold in January, 2011 in Tampa, FL at the FUN auction, lot # 6766.
1906 Proof Quarter Eagle
1906 $2.50 Liberty Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 130 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 77 could have been sold in gold proof sets. The date is high, close to the truncation. A proof 61 sold in January, 2011 at the Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 6767.
1907 Proof Quarter Eagle
1907 $2.50 Liberty Head. This is the final year for the design. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 120 known in all grades. The devices are semi-brilliant not frosty. Not more than 74 could have been sold in gold proof sets. The date slants up. The 1 and the 7 are just free of the border and the truncation. Two horizontal lines are found in the third stripe. A proof 61 sold in January, 2011 at the Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 6768.
1908 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1908 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 146 known in all grades. The coins have a dark matte proof incuse finish, which gives a somewhat brownish color. This date is the least rare of the Indian proofs. A proof 66 sold at the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5047. 1908 Indian $2.5 NGC PF67 , 1908 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF67
1909 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1909 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 80 known in all grades. The coins have a Roman Gold finish. Their surfaces are light in color between satiny and mirrored. They have none of the granularity of matte or sandblast proofs. A proof 67 sold at the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5048.
1910 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1910 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 136 known in all grades. The coins have a Roman Gold finish. Their surfaces are light in color between satiny and mirrored. They have none of the granularity of matte or sandblast proofs. A proof 64 sold at the August, 2010 Boston, MA ANA auction, lot # 3453. 1910 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF67
1911 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1911 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 123 known in all grades. The coins have a matte finish, which is dull and darker than that of an uncirculated coin. A proof 67 sold at the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5050. 1911 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF68
1912 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1912 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 103 known in all grades. The coins have a fine sandblast finish, which is different from all previous matte coins. The surfaces have microscopic shiny facets. A proof 65 sold at the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5051. 1912 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF67
1913 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1913 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 86 known in all grades. The coins have a fine sandblast finish, which the same as was used in 1912. The surfaces have microscopic shiny facets. A proof 65 sold at the January, 2011 Tampa, FL FUN auction, lot # 5053. 1913 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF67
1914 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1914 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 73 known in all grades. The coins have a coarse sandblast finish, which is much darker than the previous two years. The microscopic facets are larger than those seen on the surfaces of the coins of the two previous years. A proof 66 sold at the August, 2009 Los Angeles, CA ANA auction, lot # 4400. 1914 Indian $2.5 NGC PF66, 1914 Indian Head $2.5 PCGS MS65
1915 Proof Indian Quarter Eagle
1915 $2.50 Indian Head. Survival estimates for this date are approximately 60 known in all grades. The coins have a coarse sandblast finish which is the same as was used for 1914. A proof 67 sold at the August, 2009 Los Angeles, CA ANA auction, lot # 4407. 1915 Indian Head $2.5 NGC PF67

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