Rare Coin Profile: 1827/3/2 Capped Bust Quarter, PCGS PR64 CAC

The following Coin Profile comes from Heritage Auctions, which is auctioning this coin from the Eugene H. Gardner Collection, auction #1213 on June 23, 2014 as Lot 30357.

There are only 9 examples known to exist.

The auction catalog reads as follows…….

1827/3/2 25C Original PR64 PCGS. CAC. B-1, R.7. This delightful Choice proof exhibits deeply reflective fields, even in the tiny spaces between the shield stripes. The central devices display razor-sharp definition and rich mint frost, but some stars show incomplete radials. The coin is well-centered. Vivid shades of cerulean-blue, champagne-gold, burnt-orange, and sea-green toning enhance the mirrored surfaces. Only a few minor hairlines are evident, and the eye appeal is terrific. Housed in a green label holder.

1827_25_ha_062314_thumbVariety: All Original 1827 quarters were struck from the same pair of dies. The variety was designated as B-1 by Ard W. Browning in his seminal work on the series. The B-1 reverse features a Curl Base 2 in the denomination, while the B-2 Restrikes all display a Square Base 2. The 1827 B-1 obverse die was produced by overdating the 1823/2 B-1 obverse, which had been used previously to produce the small mintage of quarters in 1823. All four digits show signs of overpunching. Thus, this die was used to strike overdates on two separate occasions, possibly a unique occurrence in the annals of U.S. coinage. The 1827 B-1 reverse die was later used to strike the B-1 variety of 1828. All Original 1827 quarters show a die crack on the reverse, from ED in UNITED, across the banner, and through AME in AMERICA. All 1828 B-1 quarters also show this crack, and some later die states exhibit a retained cud through the leaves and UNITED, showing that the 1827 Originals were definitely struck first. Unlike all later Restrikes, the 1827 Originals show no sign of die rust.

Population Data (5/14): Only nine Original 1827 quarters are known, but several coins have been resubmitted or crossed over, as evidenced by the single known VF specimen appearing in the data of both services. PCGS currently lists eight total submissions, with three coins in PR64 and three finer. NGC has graded four examples, with two in PR64 and none finer.

1827_25c_ha_062314Heritage Commentary: The 1827 Capped Bust quarter is one of the rarest and most mysterious issues in the U.S. silver series. It has been known as a fabulous rarity since 1857, and numismatists were cognizant of all examples we know about today as early as 1867. The coins were among the most valuable and sought-after issues in 19th century numismatics. However, the 1827 has lagged behind other silver issues of similar rarity in terms of auction prices realized in recent years, and the issue qualifies as a “sleeper” in today’s market. Eight “Original” 1804 dollars are known, having a prices realized record of more than $4.1 million. Similarly, 10 1884 Trade dollars are known, and the record price realized is $998,750. The 1838-O half dollar, having a surviving population of nine specimens, shows a prices realized record of $763,750. Only nine Original 1827 quarters are extant, yet the record price realized for the issue is a comparatively modest $190,000, set by the Garrett coin in 1980. Clearly, this issue is underrated and due for a dramatic increase in price.

Mint records indicate 4,000 Capped Bust quarters were delivered on December 29, 1827, but no business-strike examples of the date have ever surfaced. All Original 1827 quarters are proofs, and only one example is in impaired condition, making it unlikely that they are survivors of this regular-issue emission. Present-day numismatists believe the coins delivered in late December were actually dated 1828, and the 1827 proofs were struck for some other purpose, possibly as gifts for Treasury officials and Mint personnel.

The first mention of 1827 quarters in numismatic circles was in a letter from “Outsider” published in the New York Dispatch on September 13, 1857. Numismatic researcher Karl Moulton believes “Outsider” was either J.N.T. Levick or John K. Curtis, and he was responding to some correspondence between Augustus B. Sage (a.k.a. “Gus”) and Charles I. Bushnell (a.k.a. “Numismatist”). The letter revealed that one 1827 quarter was owned by Boston newspaper owners Graves and Weston, and another was owned by William W. Long of Philadelphia.

The first mention of the present coin was in a letter dated December 27, 1867, from coin dealer Edward Cogan to prominent collector Joseph Reakirt, who had just purchased the 1827 silver proof set, including an 1827 Original quarter, in W. Elliot Woodward’s sale of Joseph Mickley’s collection. Cogan listed 10 examples of the 1827 quarter known to him and their respective owners. His count was off by one, as he did not realize the coin owned by William Sumner Appleton had recently been sold to George Seavey. Cogan believed these collectors owned two separate specimens of the 1827 quarter and listed them both as simultaneous, rather than successive, owners in his list. According to Cogan’s list, the coin offered here was owned by Arthur G. Coffin in 1867. He was a founding member of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia. Later owners include supercollectors Virgil Brand and F.C.C. Boyd (see Provenance for details).

Once coin collecting became widespread in the United States after 1857, collector demand for the 1827 quarter skyrocketed. Restrikes were made on several occasions and in several compositions to satisfy the demand. No one knows exactly how many restrikes were made, or exactly when they were struck, but everyone agrees they were struck inside the Mint as numismatic delicacies. Both copper and silver Restrikes began to appear around 1876, about the same time as the Class III 1804 dollars. The coins were struck using the same 1827/3/2 overdated obverse as the Originals, but the Original reverse was no longer available, having failed while striking the B-1 variety of the 1828 Capped Bust quarter. Instead, the Restrikes were produced using the same die used to coin the B-2 variety of the 1819 quarter, with the telltale Square Base 2 in the denomination. Both obverse and reverse dies had rusted extensively during their decades-long storage between uses, and all Restrikes show evidence of die rust on both surfaces. Steve Tompkins and Karl Moulton list five copper Restrikes and nine silver Restrikes in their Census, with the possibility of some confusion due to incorrect attribution by early catalogers and at least one copper-gilt specimen that was erroneously listed as a silver piece over the years.

There are at least two 1827 B-2 quarters that show no evidence of die rust and were struck using cut-down Draped Bust quarters as planchets, These two coins have crushed edge reeding, and were apparently struck as trial or essay pieces at about the same time as the Originals. Saul Teichman believes these two coins were struck as experimental pieces when the Mint introduced the close collar technology for various denominations in the late 1820s and early 1830s, and may be related to the Crushed Lettered Edge half dollars of the mid-1830s.

This bewildering array of essay and Restrike examples is probably to blame for the decline in demand for the 1827 quarter over the years. Collectors were naturally reluctant to pay high premiums for so-called rarities that seemed to have an ever-increasing supply of examples as time went by. Thankfully, modern research by Tompkins and Moulton, as well as Rory Rea, Dr. Glenn Peterson, Brad Karoleff and John Kovach, has done much to restore the 1827 Original Capped Bust quarter to its former glory.

There are unequivocally only nine examples of the 1827 Original Capped Bust quarter extant today, and this coin is probably the third- or fourth-finest example. It possesses tremendous eye appeal to go with its high technical grade and an illustrious pedigree back to the earliest days of the hobby. This coin has been off the market for 16 years, and only three other lower-graded examples have been publicly offered in the meantime. The discerning collector should bid accordingly when this classic 19th century rarity crosses the auction block.

The following provenance was compiled by Karl Moulton, Steve Tompkins, and Saul Teichman.

Provenance: Arthur G. Coffin by December 1867, per a letter from Edward Cogan to Joseph Reakirt; Col. James H. Taylor Collection (William Strobridge, 11/1875), lot 1236; John G. Kellogg Sale (Thomas Elder, 10/1916), lot 1409; Virgil Brand, (Brand Journal number 81228); Armin Brand; F.C.C. Boyd; World’s Greatest Collection (Numismatic Gallery, 3/1945), lot 89; Will W. Neil; Neil Collection (B. Max Mehl, 6/1947), lot 897; B. Max Mehl, offered in a full-page ad in the March 1952 The Numismatist, page 289; R.L. Miles; Miles Collection, Part II (Stack’s, 4/1969), lot 898; H. Philip Speir; Speir Collection (Stack’s, 3/1974), lot 20; ANA Convention Auction (Kagin’s, 8/1977), lot 1175; Auction ’79 (Stack’s, 7/1979), lot 581; Arnold and Romisa Collections (Bowers and Merena, 9/1984), lot 2653; Baltimore Sale (Superior, 7/1993), lot 324; Harold Rothenberger Sale (Superior, 1/1994), lot 1248; May Auction (Superior, 5/1994), lot 576; September Auction (Superior, 9/1998), lot 251. Note: Although this coin was offered in the Col. James Taylor Collection catalog by William Strobridge in 1875, it was not part of Taylor’s consignment. The actual consignor is unknown.(Registry values: P10) (NGC ID# 23S9, PCGS# 5373)

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