Legend Numismatics

HomeUS Coins1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The Dahlonega Mint struck 3,532 1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagles in the first year of United States Mint Chief Engraver Christian Gobrecht’s new $2.50 gold coin design. This was the lowest output of the four mint facilities in 1840.

The engraving department at the Philadelphia Mint shipped two die pairs to Dahlonega on February 6. From these, one obverse was used along with the two reverses.

Left: D mintmark leans slightly to the right. This is diagnostic of Winter 1-A. Right: D mintmark is oriented in a straight up-and-down upright configuration. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
Left: D mintmark leans slightly to the right. This is diagnostic of Winter 1-A. Right: D mintmark is oriented in a straight up-and-down upright configuration. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

United States gold coin expert Doug Winter identifies the different die marriages as Winter 1-A and Winter 1-B. Winter 1-B is considerably scarcer than the 1-A and was discovered in 1997. Differentiating the two reverses is not that complicated. The orientation of the mintmark is a key diagnostic. The Winter 1-A die marriage features a D mintmark that leans slightly to the right, slightly embedded in the feather. The Winter 1-B features an upright D mintmark. As the two reverse dies shattered at slightly different places, the position of the cracks can also serve as a pick-up point for the specialist.

* * *

Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Winter considers this one of the most poorly struck Dahlonega quarter eagles and the 1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle the rarest D-mint issue in AU or Mint State. It is estimated that fewer than 100 survive in all grades. This is more than double the amount that numismatist David W. Akers was aware of when he published United States Gold Coins, An Analysis of Auction Records, Volume I (1975). In that volume, Akers estimated a surviving population of 30 pieces.

Interestingly, there were no known uncirculated examples of the 1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle through the 1980s. The Duke’s Creek-Stellar example, by all accounts the finest known at NGC MS62, was described as “just a hairsbreadth from Uncirculated” in the Stack’s portion of Auction ’84. That coin is one of two examples currently counted in the NGC and PCGS Mint State census.

Top Population: PCGS MS61 (1, 5/2024), NGC MS62 (1, 5/2024), and CAC AU58 (1:0 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

The Duke’s Creek – Stellar example was considered the “finest known” when it was offered in Stack’s session of Auction ’84.
The Duke’s Creek – Stellar example was considered the “finest known” when it was offered in Stack’s session of Auction ’84.
  • NGC MS62 #302712-018: New Netherlands, November 1956, Lot 219; “The Harold L. Bareford Collection of United States Gold Coins”, Stack’s, December 1978, Lot 86; Hancock and Harwell; Dr. Arthur Montgomery; As “Just a hairsbreadth from Uncirculated”. Stack’s, July 1984, Lot 1309; Georgia Collection; Hancock and Harwell; Leon Farmer; Hancock and Harwell; Around this time, graded PCGS MS60. Then, the only coin was certified in Mint State. Duke’s Creek Collection; As NGC MS62 #302712-018. “The Duke’s Creek Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 2006, Lot 1495 – $74,750; Stellar Collection; “The John O. Sykes Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 25, 2022, Lot 6024 – $144,000. DUKES CREEK – STELLAR on insert. Winter 1-A. Struck with perfect obverse and reverse die. 
  • NGC MS61 #1626034-007: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2004, Lot 1016 – $27,600.
  • PCGS AU58 #6555149: Heritage Auctions, January 2006, Lot 3414 – $19,550; Stack’s, January 2009, Lot 902 – Passed; “The John O. Sykes Collection,” Stack’s Bowers, August 25, 2022, Lot 6025 – $45,600. Winter 1-B. Prominent diagonal die crack that bisects that obverse from the rim left of star 5 to the rim on the right of star 13.
  • NGC AU55+ #3575357-001: Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2013, Lot #6872 – $25,850. Winter 1-A. Prominent diagonal die crack that bisects that obverse from the rim left of star 5 to the rim on the right of star 13. From here on, referred to as “obverse die crack”. Reverse is shattered with die crack at 12 o’clock through T in STATES through eagle, mintmark, and terminating at the end through the fraction. A second die crack from rim through the right serifs of N, through the eagle, touching just above the arrow fletching. Third die crack from rim above right side of M in AMERICA. From here on, referred to as “reverse shattered die”.
  • PCGS AU55 #25656163: Private Collector, acquired in 2002; As NGC MS60 #4330656-001. Heritage Auctions, August 10, 2016, Lot 4265 – $28,200. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Perviously dipped. Deep hit on chin. Diagonal scrape to the right of star 2. Thin cluster of hits on cheek. Mutilated denticle on reverse below the numerator. Scraped 2. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions. Since this sale, the coin crossed to PCGS, where it downgraded to AU55. Photographed on PCGS CoinFacts.
  • NGC AU55 #1981532-002: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2010, Lot 2099 – $9,200; “The Wasatch Collection of Liberty’s Quarter Eagles,” Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2016, Lot 5441 – $11,162.50. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Two small ticks to the right of Liberty’s mouth. Hit through the base of 0. Scratch to the left of star 13. Certification number no longer active. 
  • NGC AU55 #3815495-001: Heritage Auctions, September 17, 2015, Lot 4144 – $17,625. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Gouge on the bust truncation just above the 8. Tick on cheek. Two ticks to the right of star 2. 
  • NGC AU55 #402756-018: Heritage Auctions, February 28, 2003, Lot 8110 – $13,800. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Long hit across the jaw. Several ticks below ES. Certification number no longer active. 
  • NGC AU53 #3608182-004: “The Collection of Donald E. Bently,” Heritage Auctions, March 20, 2014, Lot 30233 – $10,575. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Cavity to the right of Liberty’s nostril. Cluster of depressions on jawline. Stars 10 and 11 are highly struck. Most stars lack radials. Certification number no longer active. 
  • PCGS AU53 #03859006: “The Malibu Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2009, Lot 5173 – $6,934. Goldberg Auctioneers, September 25, 2007, Lot 3197 – $12,650. Winter 1-B. Cracked obverse die. Thin curved scratch from lip to eye into hairline, across diadem, into the hair. Graffiti or strike through? Reverse shattered.
  • PCGS AU50 #25376974: Heritage Auctions, August 28, 2022, Lot 4792 – $14,400. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die.
  • PCGS AU50 #5616755: Heritage Auctions, May 6, 2022, Lot 4684 – $31,200. Winter 1-B. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die.
  • NGC AU50 #2057997-001: “The Lucy Llewellyn Collection of Southern Gold,” Heritage Auctions, March 26, 2010, Lt 2057 – $8,050. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Series of scratches in the area to the right of the eagle’s head and left wing.
  • PCGS AU50 #6579160: Heritage Auctions, May 1, 2009, Lot 3602 – $9,200. Winter 1-A. Cracks not apparent on obverse. Reverse shattered die. Diagonal scratch across cheek. Small gouge to the right of Liberty’s neck, close to hair. Dark spot below 1. On the reverse. small gouge between ER. Hit across the top of first A of AMERICA. Diagonal hit on eagle’s left wing. 
  • NGC AU50 #1635675-001: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2006, Lot 4721 – $9,890; Heritage Auctions, July 8, 2011, Lot 4574 – $8,050. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Diagonal hit from chin to just right of Liberty’s mouth. Hit on the Liberty’s nose just to the left of her eye. Thin diagonal scratches on Liberty’s jaw and chin. Rim hit below 8. Certification number no longer active.
  • PCGS AU50 #5572782: Stanley Kasselman to Harry W. Bass, Jr., by private treaty sale, April 28, 1967; “The Harry W. Bass Collection, Part II,” Bowers and Merena, October 1999, Lot 330- $14,375; “The Ashland City Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 11, 2003, Lot 4653 – $9,775. HW Bass Jr Coll on insert. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die. Pedigree research assisted by Heritage Auctions. Certification number no longer active.
  • NGC AU50 #581895-002: Heritage Auctions, February 12, 2000, Lot 256 – $12,075; Heritage Auctions, April 2001, Lot 796 – $8,337.50; “The Walter Freeman Collection, Part I”, Heritage Auctions, October 3, 2016, Lot 3269 – $8,812.50. Winter 1-A. Obverse die crack. Reverse shattered die.
  • PCGS AU50 #5549743: Heritage Auctions, August 13, 1999, Lot 7638 – $8,912.50. Chestatee Collection. Low-resolution image. Certification number no longer active.

* * *

1840-D Liberty Head Quarter Eagle Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 1840
Denomination: Two Dollars and Fifty Cents (USD)
Mintmark: D (Dahlonega)
Mintage: 3,532
Alloy: .900 Gold, .100 Copper
Weight: 4.18 g
Diameter: 18.00 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Quality: Business Strike

 

* * *

CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Bullion Sharks Silver

AU Capital Management US gold Coins

NGCX Holders and Grading