By Dan Duncan – Pinnacle Rarities
Pinnacle Rarities is proud to announce the purchase of another world class set. We have acquired celebrated collector Bruce Scher’s Proof Seated Quarter collection. His focus (as in all things) is seeking finest known, eye appealing examples. While lacking only two dates, the set is currently ranked second on the PCGS Registry, and features twelve of the finest known or tied for finest known examples. As a group, the thirty-three examples represent the most fabulous assemblage of the series we’ve ever encountered.
1859 25c PCGS PR67 – Although Mint records indicate that 800 proofs were struck in this year, an unknown number were melted at year’s end as unsold, leaving this issue with a relatively high official mintage but low availability in all grades. PCGS and NGC population figures indicate that approximately 250 pieces have survived, not taking into account an unknown number of resubmissions and crossovers. Very few coins exist above the PR64 level. The present example is one of a mere two so graded by PCGS with one PR67 Cameo also in existence. This piece has blockbuster eye-appeal, with plum centers bursting into intense sapphire blue through the central design elements and a pale golden-yellow halo along the rim. The one-two punch of aesthetics and technical perfection are untouchable by any other example of this early date.
1888 25c PCGS PR68 – Business strike mintage of quarters in 1883 was a minute 14,400 pieces. The U.S.Treasury was inundated with minor silver coins that had returned from offshore havens where they had been harbored during the Civil War. This influx paired with the large mintages during the 1870s satisfied demand for everyday commerce. Treasury Secretary John Sherman, in accordance with the Mint Act of 1873, halted production of minor coinage early in 1878. For the next decade, the Mint adhered to a policy of small mintages of quarters and half dollars and concentrated on production of Morgan silver dollars.
Undisturbed surfaces shine with a pleasing even golden hue. The surfaces are intensely mirrored and the devices heavily frosted. Tied with one other coin for finest known honors for the entire series, this coin is the epitome of perfection and a quintessential example of the type.
1883 25c PCGS PR68CAM – Because of the limited mintage of business strikes from 1879 to 1890, extra demand is exerted on proofs of the era. This delectable example exhibits intriguing turquoise and jade toning on each side of the obverse, while the majority is an enchanting golden hue. The reverse displays the same blue and green joined with iris and sunset-orange. One of a mere 8 examples so graded in the entire With Motto series and tied with just one other piece for finest known honors for the date.
Currently we are offering this incredible set for sale intact (POR). If the set remains available, coins will be sold individually on our website beginning November 10th. We hope you enjoy viewing the collection. If there are specific items you have an interest in please contact us at 1-800-PCGS-NGC or via email.
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More on Seated Quarters…
The lure of Seated coinage is its significance historically, artistically and economically. Literature surrounding the series is an in depth look at the growth of the United States as a budding industrial power. The overall design is a quick study of world monetary motifs including numismatics spanning back to the ancient Greeks. The physical changes to the seated quarters during its run and the reasons behind these changes are a fascinating look at the economic factors surrounding the industrial and commercial growth of the U.S., the impact of the California gold rush, and the yearnings of a young nation to be an international player.
According to Walter Breen’s Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins (Doubleday – New York, NY 1988), the device punches for the first seated quarters were completed in the summer of 1838. The new design was based on Gobrecht’s dollar of 1836. The Liberty Seated motif inspired by Thomas Sully was paired with the Reich-Kneass eagle for the reverse. Production began in the fall of that same year. The use of the seated liberty was reflective of European coinage of the era including coins of England and France. The seated visage can be traced to ancient Greek coinage. This early design underwent a number of changes throughout the series’ run.
This design was first modified in 1840 by Robert Ball Hughes. His reworking of the effigy of Ms. Liberty was meant to add some “respectability” to the motif by covering some of the exposed skin. The changes were not only made out of modesty, but also to improve striking quality. Hughes attempted to create a better metal flow with flattened devices. This did not completely cure the striking ills and many circulating strikes remain weak in portions, most notably the foot and head. This variety is easily discernable by the drapery present at Liberty’s elbow. Regardless, the design remained as such until the price of silver forced another change.
After the discovery of gold in California, the price of silver in four quarters was worth more than the one dollar face value. Merchants would exchange goods and services for quarters and melt or sell them for their silver content at a profit. The government was forced to lower the quarters silver content to keep them from the melting pots. In 1853 the silver content of the quarter was lowered to 96 grains and the lower silver content was denoted by the addition of arrows to each side of the date, and rays emanating from the reverse eagle. This motif was used in that year only. In 1854, Mint Director James Snowden ordered the rays removed from the reverse hubs.
These arrows quarters were continued for a couple years and in 1856 the arrows were dropped from the design also. In 1866 another design change for the seated quarter was performed with the addition of the motto “In God We Trust” added in a ribbon above the eagle on the reverse. A politically motivated and controversial move, this motto has appeared on most coinage ever since. And, this addition was not the final change.
As per the Mint Act of February 21, 1873, production ceased for several denominations and the composition of the quarter again changed. The weight of our nation’s coinage went metric and the new quarter weight was increased to 6.25 grams from 6.22 gm. This change was again denoted by arrows on either side of the date. This practice continued for two years, and the arrows were again omitted in 1875. The remaining examples were struck as such until the end of the series in 1891.
During the “seated years” collecting coins had become increasingly popular. Calls for specimens had increased so much that in 1858 the Mint began to produce proof sets to satisfy public demand. Prior to this, examples were special ordered and produced on demand in very small quantities by Mint personnel. The mintage figures in 1858 were very limited and the numbers remained modest throughout the life of the series (the highest being 1,355 in 1880, and the lowest is the estimated 300 from 1858). Most dates in the series have a mere four to six hundred proof examples struck, with surviving gem and better quality examples generally numbering less than 100 coins.
This inherent rarity, combined with a rich historical background, makes the proof seated quarter series compelling and desirable. As a collectible, the generous numbers of types within the denomination makes the series one of numismatics most popular. Combining all of this with the rarity factor especially with this level of quality examples makes each individual specimen in this fabulous collection a numismatic treasure.