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1796 Small Eagle Draped Bust Quarter MS62

2020-09-17 20:18:00
1796 Small Eagle Draped Bust Quarter MS62

1796 Small Eagle Draped Bust Quarter MS62

The earliest U.S. coin designs such as the Chain Cent, Wreath Cent, and Flowing Hair Dollar  were met with general dissatisfaction from the public. In 1796, the U.S. Mint responded to the issue of the early nation’s coin designs by requesting the famous portrait artist, Gilbert Stuart, to design Lady Liberty for the Draped Bust Quarter. Once completed, this design would be transferred to dies by Robert Scot, the U.S. Mint’s First Chief Engraver. As the first Quarter Dollar design to be struck in U.S. history, the Draped Bust Quarter marks one of the most important moments in American numismatics.

The coin’s obverse features a stunning rendition of Lady Liberty, her long hair flowing behind her as she is surrounded by the word “LIBERTY” and fifteen stars. Each of these stars represents the fifteen states that comprised the union during the coin’s mintage, 13 for the original colonies and 2 for the newest states, Vermont and Kentucky. Later issues of this coin would feature only thirteen stars to represent the original thirteen colonies and to prevent the coin from becoming overcrowded. This is because the U.S. Mint realized that if a star was added for every new state, the coin would quickly become overcrowded due to the rapid growth of our nation.

The reverse of the Draped Bust Quarter comes in two varieties, the Small Eagle variety and the Heraldic Eagle variety. The Small Eagle variety is a one year type that was only struck in 1796, making it a tremendous rarity. This variety features a bald eagle, resting upon a cloud and surrounded by an open wreath. Unlike most later examples, there is no indication of the coin’s value or denomination. From 1804-1807 the Draped Bust Quarter showcased a larger heraldic eagle, which would go on to grace numerous other coins struck by the U.S. Mint. 

Considered a landmark in the history of American coinage, the Draped Bust Quarter exists in extremely limited numbers. Only 10% of the original mintage of 6,146, or about 600 coins, are estimated to still exist. Most surviving examples of this stunning coin are graded somewhere in the range of About Good to Fine condition. In total, only 72 examples have been graded in Uncirculated condition and just 15 have been graded MS62 like this example. As both a Condition and Absolute rarity as well as a cornerstone of American coinage, the 1796 Draped Bust Quarter is a wonderful addition to any collection. 


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