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Phil Kaufman?s 1850 proof quarter, pedigreed to the John Jay Pittman Collection, is by far the finest of two or three known specimens. This delectable NGC-graded PR68 coin outshines an NGC PR65 example, and two PR62s, one graded by NGC and the other by PCGS. Walter Breen, in his 1977 Proof Encyclopedia, claims to have seen only two 1850 proof quarters, ?aside from those in the unseen proof sets.? Similarly, David Akers writes in the May 1998 catalog of the John Jay Pittman Collection:
?The 1850 Quarter in Proof is exceedingly rare, even more so than the Proofs of 1847, 1848 and 1849, and it is in the same rarity class as the 1840, 1841 and 1844 Proof Quarters of which only two or three examples of each are known. Just two Proof 1850 Quarters are known with certainty, with possibly a third example also extant, although the third piece ? is not as obvious a Proof as the other two and is open to debate as to its original minting status.?
There have been few appearances of 1850 proof quarters at public auction. The following roster is based on our research into auction records:
1. PR68 NGC. R. Green (5/1949), John Jay Pittman (David Akers, 5/1998), lot 1317, Phil Kaufman (Heritage, 1/2008, lot 3035). According to Akers, this piece is probably from the H.P. Smith Collection (Chapman Brothers, 5/1906), lot 820.
2. PR63. 1976 CSNS Convention (RARCOA, 4/1976), lot 218, Reed Hawn (Stack?s, 3/1977), lot 310, Ellis Robison (Stack?s, 2/1982), lot 1318, Heritage (2/1984), lot 956. In 1984, our cataloger identified this coin as the same example that appeared in the J.H. South catalog (Stack?s, 2/1951), lot 515.
3. PR62 PCGS. Stack?s (1/1993), lot 455, Bowers (8/1998), lot 156.
A. PR65 NGC. Ed Hipps. Displayed at the 1998 FUN convention, according to David Akers. This example could be number 2, 3, or letter B.
B. PR65. Vintage (10/1988). This example could be numbers 2, 3, or letter A.
In addition to the above pieces, Walter Breen mentioned others in his Proof Encyclopedia. A complete set of 1850 silver and minor proofs is held by Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, reportedly obtained by Alexandre Vattemare from the Philadelphia Mint in 1850. We are unaware of anyone who has recently seen this set, if it even exists. Some original ?Proof? sets were actually a combination of proofs and business strikes. Breen also mentioned a complete 1850 silver and minor proof set in the collection of H.P. Smith, lot 1240 in the Chapman Brothers sale. That coin has not been identified, and is almost certainly one of those listed above. Other sets mentioned by Breen are doubted.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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