From the NGC Archives: 1796 Quarter Eagle Without Star

Posted on 12/11/2012

The first emission of quarter eagles ($2.50) was minted in 1796. Tennessee had just become the 16th state, and the mint's engravers were in a quandary about how to include so many stars on such a small coin. Their initial solution — one soon rejected — was to have no stars at all on the obverse.

Disliked by collectors of the time, these coins have since grown in popularity and are now widely sought by type, as well as by date and mint.

The 1796 quarter eagle without stars is the single rarest United States type coin. Its mintage of just 963 pieces is almost too small to imagine, even for a coin of that distant era. Gold authority David Akers estimated that just 30-40 examples are known in all grades, while scholar Walter Breen declined to speculate, simply noting that this type is very rare. This absolutely wonderful coin is quite boldly struck, while its luster is bright and semi-prooflike. Accents of subtle orange toning may be seen around its borders.

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