Coin Specifications

Category: Early $2.50 (1796-1834)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 2,710
Catalog: KM-40
Obverse Designer: John Reich
Reverse Designer: John Reich
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9160
Weight: 4.3700g
AGW: 0.1287oz
Melt Value: $168.00 (7/28/2014)
Diameter: 20mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1808 $2.5 MS obverse 1808 $2.5 MS reverse


  
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VarietyPlus®

There are no varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

Johann Matthias (John) Reich joined the Mint engraving staff on April 1, 1807, and served a 10-year tenure until March 31, 1817. He was responsible for the Capped Bust coinage so familiar today. Reich set about redesigning every denomination from the half cent through the half eagle. In 1807, his Capped Bust design appeared for the first time on half dollars, and a similar design also appeared on the half eagles in 1807. Early the next year, a modification of this design, known today as the Classic Head, appeared on large cents and followed on the half cents in 1809. For silver coins, the Capped Bust design was utilized for dimes in 1809, quarter dollars in 1815, and half dimes in 1829. Silver dollars and eagles were not in production, so the Reich designs never appeared on those denominations. Perhaps the single most important entry in the Reich parade of designs is the quarter eagle of 1808.

John Reich was a Bavarian native who learned the engraving trade from his father, Johann Christian Reich. According to L. Forrer in the Biographical Dictionary of Medalists: the elder Reich was 'born at Eisenberg (Saxe-Altenburg) about 1740, settled at Furth in 1758, and died in 1814. He probably began as an assistant to a Counter-manufacturer, but started business on his own account about 1770, as shown by various counters bearing his name, some of which refer to the famine of 1771/1772. He had a factory of organs, clocks, mathematical instruments, musical boxes, and other objects. Of that period is a series of medals by him dated 1771 and 1772, and commemorating also that famine.' The younger Reich, according to Forrer, collaborated with his father from about 1789 to 1800. Johann Matthias was born in Furth in 1768. Many of the medals issued during those years with the signature of Reich were the work of father and son together.

John Reich immigrated to America in 1800, settling in Philadelphia. Apparently he came at the suggestion of Henry Voigt, quickly gaining the attention of Mint Director Elias Boudinot. In a June 16, 1801 letter to President Thomas Jefferson, Boudinot commented that 'I have been waited on by Mr. Reich and was much pleased with his work.' Jefferson, in turn, agreed to have Reich prepare the design for his own Indian Peace medal.

Robert Patterson replaced Boudinot as Mint director, then hired Reich as assistant engraver. A short time later, another engraver arrived from Europe. Moritz Frst came to Philadelphia and 'was firmly convinced that he was to assume the office of chief engraver, according to representations which had been made to him by Thomas Appleton, the American consul at Leghorn,' according to Georgia S. Chamberlain in the March 1955 issue of The Numismatist. Eventually, both Reich and Furst worked on designs for various medals at the Mint. Reich left his post at the Mint in 1817, and spent his remaining 16 years in Albany, New York.

The 1808 quarter eagle is the only issue of this denomination to display Reich's handiwork. Only 2,710 pieces were minted during the year, and it is likely that all were from this single pair of dies. Only one variety is known, with approximately 150 surviving pieces. The combination of a low survival and high demand from type, date, and variety collectors ensures that examples are infrequently offered and hotly contested when they are made available. In Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia, the author states: 'No archives documentation explains the small mintage, abandonment of the design, or noncoinage of quarter eagles for the dozen years to follow. All we have is conjectures, mine follow.' Essentially, Breen suggested that the banks, who made regular deposits of gold to be converted to coin, preferred the half eagle coins: 'over 90% of the time they wanted most or all their gold deposits coined into half eagles.' This same reason is usually quoted for large production of half eagles throughout the early 19th century, but it fails to explain why the largest gold coin of that time, the eagle, had not been produced since 1804, not to appear again until 1838.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 8/13/2013

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1808 $2.5 MS
  GVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 16000 20000 30000 50000 75000 75000 105000 112500 130000 137500 156000 170000 255000 487500 650000 - - - - - -
$ 85000 115000 125000 140000 150000 165000 185000 285000 510000 750000 - - - -
NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 43
Low Grade: F
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 64


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
1/9/2008 NGC VF 30   Heritage Auctions 2008 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #454, 454/Lot# 3067 $48,875.00
1/9/2008 PCGS MS 62   Heritage Auctions 2008 January Orlando, FL (FUN) Signature Coin Auction #454, 454/Lot# 32 $1,495.00
1/31/2010 NGC AU 55   Goldberg January 31 - February 3, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 57/Lot# 2064 $83,375.00
8/11/2010 NGC MS 61   Heritage Auctions 2010 August Boston, MA Signature & Platinum Night ANA Coin Auction #1143, 1143/Lot# 3408 $138,000.00
10/31/2011 NGC AU 58   Teletrade Auction 3164, 3164/Lot# 2123 $30.00
10/17/2012 NGC MS 61   Stack's Bowers The November 2012 Baltimore Auction - US and World Lots - Live and Internet Only Sessions, 144/Lot# 3241 $126,500.00
11/10/2013 PCGS Genuine XF   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 11/10/2013, 100/Lot# 116882 $34,320.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1808 $2.5 MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base549958766271668573178428927199811016610285104581057110841115291635318125207232584532024404115195168052
562460076409689576878709950710042102051034210495106611107013137169431899122430279043481944257573180
00000095071004210205103421049510661110701313716943189912243027904348194425700
00000097441010410245104001053310751112991474517534198572413729964376154810400
1808 $2.5 MS Prooflike
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base5718610565126938758687279592103201050910632108091092511202119061684218651213042652932825413625309669450
584762406654715479669015983410383105501069110847110171143613551174451953523045286273567045273585470
00000098341038310550106911084711017114361355117445195352304528627356704527300
000000100771044610591107501088611109116711519618048204192478730726385164918400
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 61
Points: 10515
Owner: The Artist's Collection
 
Grade: AU 58
Points: 9710
Owner: Brandenburg
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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