The NGC Universal ID is a four digit alphanumeric that groups coins based on a unique combination of date, mintmark, denomination and striking process (MS, PF, or SP). These IDs are a simple organization of all coins prior to variety attribution and grading.
From a proof-only mintage of just 30 pieces, the 1863 quarter eagle is one of the classic rarities among U.S. gold coins of any denomination. Among Liberty Head quarter eagles, only the 1841 and 1854-S emissions are considered on par with this storied date. Any offering of an 1863 quarter eagle is a noteworthy occasion for advanced collectors of this popular series.
The rarity and importance of the 1863 quarter eagle were recognized almost as soon as the coins were issued. In the sale of the John F. McCoy Collection (Woodward, 5/1864), lot 1992 featured a gold proof set of 1863. Woodward disclosed:
'1863 Proof set, with 10 Dollar Piece, and four smaller denominations. Of the Quarter Eagle of 1863, I have positive knowledge that only 30 pieces were struck, hence this coin is now one of the rarest of the series. I am also assured that the 3 Dollar Piece is scarcely less rare.'
The lot realized $72.50 to William A. Lilliendahl, a tremendous price at the time, since the coins were only minted the year before. By 1883, Harold P. Newlin estimated about the 1863 'not half a dozen of these are now known to collectors.' Of course, a few more specimens have surfaced since Newlin's time. In their Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795-1933, Jeff Garrett and Ron Guth estimate a surviving population of 15-20 examples of this date in all grades. This is only the third time Heritage has been privileged to offer an 1863 quarter eagle in any of our auctions since 1993.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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