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HomeUS CoinsCapped Head Left Quarter Eagle, Large Size (1821-1827) | CoinWeek

Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle, Large Size (1821-1827) | CoinWeek

1824/1 Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1824/1 Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

After the release of the 1808 Draped Bust Left Quarter Eagle, the United States Mint would not strike another $2.50 gold coin for 12 years. A second war with Great Britain combined with rising gold prices pushed gold coins out of circulation. Because the United States set a fixed 15:1 silver-to-gold ratio, speculators and brokers could exchange one ounce of U.S. gold for about 16 ounces of silver overseas, use 15 of those silver ounces to buy another ounce of gold here, send that gold overseas for 16 more ounces of silver, and so on. The main impediment to this profit of one ounce of silver per transaction (minus any shipping fees) was the inability to secure enough gold. Banks were the main depositors of gold at the Mint, and per the Mint’s policy, a depositor could request coinage of certain specific denominations.

President Thomas Jefferson recognized the issue in 1804 and ordered a production stoppage of the eagle $10 gold coin (the denomination would not return until 1838). Because of this, those who requested gold coins usually chose half eagles. Demand for quarter eagles amounted to only about 10 percent of the demand for the $5 gold piece. Nevertheless, interest in quarter eagles unexpectedly manifested in 1821, possibly due to the small but steady flow of gold from deposits found on and near Cherokee land in Georgia and the Carolinas.

While Chief Engraver Robert Scot’s main responsibilities were designing coins and preparing dies, he was in declining health, so the Draped Bust Left design of Scot’s assistant John Reich was used for the 1808 Quarter Eagle. With the new quarter eagle set to be 1.5 mm smaller in diameter than the older designs, Scot adapted Reich’s portrait of Liberty, reducing the size and cropping the figure to remove her bust. Liberty’s mobcap on Scot’s design is less impressive and the figure is centered on the planchet to allow the stars to encircle all but the bottom of the portrait. Scot brought forth Reich’s reverse design with just minor revisions.

Scot, who had been Chief Engraver of the Mint since 1793, died in 1823. The quarter eagle was to receive further modifications from his successor William Kneass, including another reduction in the coin’s diameter in 1829. No quarter eagles were minted in either 1822 or 1823.

How Much Are Capped Head Left, Large Diameter Quarter Eagles Worth?

All business strike Capped Head Left, Large Diameter Quarter Eagles are scarce to rare; population totals are more than 100 coins for only one year, 1825. Examples of this date seldom appear at auction and would likely sell for $75,000 and up in Choice Mint State (MS63).

Prooflike coins have been certified for several of the dates. The most expensive coin in the series is the 1826/5 (or 1826/6; opinions differ). Even in lower grades, this date is elusive, and Mint State examples are rare; an NGC MS61 example sold for $45,600 at a June 2020 Heritage Auctions sale.

The only date with certified Proofs is the 1821 issue, represented by fewer than 10 coins, some with Cameo contrast. These highly sought-after coins sell for prices between $325,000 and $1 million.

Design

Obverse:

The obverse displays a somewhat mature and stout version of Liberty, who faces left, head covered with a mobcap (an early 19th-century woman’s headdress) under which curls of long hair drape over the forehead and down the back of the neck. The cap displays LIBERTY along a ribbon banner at the cap’s base. Thirteen six-pointed stars encircle the portrait inside a denticulated rim, the ring broken by an opening for the date at the bottom, below the truncation of the neck.

Reverse:

The reverse center displays a left-facing eagle, wings outstretched nearly to the denticulated rim, body covered by a Union shield, an olive branch in the right claw (left to the observer), and three arrows in the left claw. Above the eagle is a concentric banner below STATES OF, folded back at the ends, displaying E PLURIBUS UNUM. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA encircles inside the rim, separated into three parts by the eagle’s wing tips, and the denomination of 2 1/2 D. (the fractional separator horizontal) is at the bottom.

Edge:

The edge of the Large Diameter Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle is reeded, a common anti-counterfeiting tactic.

Varieties

Very few varieties have been identified. Though the 1824/1 and the 1826/5 issues are overdates, all known examples from both years are overdates. Some believe the 1826 issue is an 1826/6 overpunch.

Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle, Large Diameter Coin Specifications

Capped Head Left Quarter Eagle, Large Diameter
Years Of Issue: 1821-27
Mintage (Business): High: 6,448 (1821); Low: 760 (1826)
Mintage (Proof): Up to 5 estimated for each production year
Alloy: 91.67% gold, 8.33% silver and copper
Weight: ±4.37 g
Diameter: ±20.00 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Robert Scot, based on a John Reich design
REV Designer: Robert Scot, based on a John Reich design

 

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References

Bowers, Q. David. The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Whitman Publishing.

Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Doubleday.

Dannreuther, John and Harry W. Bass, Jr. Early U.S. Gold Coin Varieties, A Study of Die States. 1795-1834. Whitman Publishing.

Guth, Ron and Jeff Garrett. United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Whitman Publishing.

–. Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins: 1795-1933. Whitman Publishing.

Taxay, Don. The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Arco Publishing.

Yeoman, R.S. and Jeff Garrett (editor). The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Whitman Publishing.

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

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