Shortly after the discovery of gold in California the military governor of that territory, Col. R.B. Mason, sent 230 ounces of California gold to Secretary of War William A. Marcy. From this historic shipment, Mint Director Robert M. Patterson ordered 1,389 Liberty quarter eagles struck to commemorate the important discovery, each with the abbreviation CAL. on the reverse.
Several examples were preserved in high grade, while others, such as the present piece, entered circulation Many present-day numismatists consider the 1848 CAL. quarter eagle the first U.S. commemorative coin.
Listed at $48,400 in the CDN CPG and $47,500 in Trends. Unlisted at this grade in the NGC price guide, but listed there at $44,500 in XF 40 and $54,500 in AU50.
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Coronet $2.50 Quarter Eagle
Many rarities exist in Coronet quarter eagle series The Coronet $2.50 quarter eagle series may appear to be a boring, redundant series on the surface, but it is full of scarce dates of low mintages, very low mintage Proof coins and many interesting die varieties.
The coin was designed by Mint Engraver Christian Gobrecht and introduced in 1840. The design was used through 1907, outliving the designer by more than 60 years. The design appeared for so long that in Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins , Breen says it had "become one of the most familiar and unchanging national concepts since the Spanish Pillar dollar." There was very little change in the design during the period in which it was issued. Although legislation was passed to add the motto IN GOD WE TRUST on U.S. coins, the inscription never appeared on the Coronet quarter eagle. In fact, the design appeared almost the same in its last year of issue as it appeared in the first year in which the design was struck. A lack of variations on such a likely series to be counterfeited became important for counterfeit detection. To minimize variations all Coronet quarter eagle dies were hubbed completely.
The only design elements that were not completely hubbed were the dates and Mint marks. Varieties of both the dates and Mint marks are available to collectors for this reason. All dates were added by hand using four-digit logotypes. A smaller logotype was used for the dates 1840 to 1843. Since the change was made mid-year in 1843, Large Date and Small Date varieties of that year exist.
An interesting die variety appears in the arrows held in the talons of the eagle on the reverse. James B. Longacre modified the reverse in 1859.
Philadelphia Mint coins depict smaller arrowheads spaced further apart after this date.
The San Francisco Mint continued to use reverse dies of 1854 to 1857 with the larger arrowheads through 1876.
Coronet quarter eagles were struck at five different Mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dahlonega, Charlotte and New Orleans. The Mint mark appears under the eagle on the reverse of the coins.
There is no Mint mark for Philadelphia. A D appears for Dahlonega, S for San Francisco, C for Charlotte and O for New Orleans. A type set of Coronet quarter eagle coins of one coin of each Mint mark is a challenge to collect, especially in higher grades.
Perhaps the best known coin in the series is the 1848 Coronet, CAL. countermarked coins. Col. R.B. Mason, the military governor of California, sent about 230 troy ounces of gold to Secretary of War William L. Marcy in 1848. The secretary of war in turn instructed Mint Director Robert M. Patterson to specially mark the quarter eagle coins to be struck from the California gold.
Since these coins were overstruck with the CAL. inscription, several varieties exist. Among them are a triple overstrike and various positions in which the overstrike appears above the eagle on the reverse.
One of the key dates in the series is the Proof-only issue of 1841 known from perhaps 12 examples. Many of the known pieces are impaired Proofs.
The lowest mintages generally in the series are the Charlotte and Dahlonega coins struck before the Civil War, and Philadelphia coins of 1863 to 1872 and 1874 to 1877. The low-mintage Philadelphia coins were due to suspension of specie payments, with little gold bullion being received by the Mint.
The 1854-S Coronet quarter eagle is the lowest circulation strike mintage in the series. The mintage is 246 pieces, making it the third-lowest figure for any regularly issued U.S. gold coins.
There are four other dates in the Coronet quarter eagle series with mintages of less than 1,000 pieces. They are 1875 (420), 1881 (691) and 1885 (887). The highest mintage coin in the series is that of 1853. There were 1,404,668 coins struck with that date.
Other coins in the series with mintages of more than 1 million coins are 1851 (1,372,748 pieces), 1852 (1,159,681 pieces) and 1861 (1,283,878 pieces).
Date of authorization: Jan. 18, 1837
Dates of issue :1840-1907
Designers: Obverse: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse: Christian Gobrecht-John Reich-William Kneass
Engraver: Christian Gobrecht
Diameter: 18.20 mm/0.72 inch
Weight: 4.18 grams/0.13 ounce
Metallic Content: 90% gold, 10% copper
Weight of pure gold: 3.76 grams/0.12 ounce
Mint mark: Reverse below eagle
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