In November 1858, the Philadelphia Mint shipped six quarter eagle obverse dies to its branch mint in San Francisco. These were combined with leftover reverse dies from 1856 to produce the 15,200 1859-S quarter eagles. Like most S-mint issues of the era, the majority of these pieces entered circulation and suffered a catastrophic attrition rate. If the story ended there, the '59-S quarter eagle would simply take its place as yet another early western gold coin that is inconspicuous by its rarity. Modern numismatists, however, have attached importance and charm to all S-mint issues of 1859. There is little doubt that this added fame stems, in part, from the 1859-S Seated dollar issue. The first of its kind struck at the west coast facility, this issue opened an era of close trade relations with the Orient that would increase in intensity over the next several decades. While the silver dollar is an important and respected coin in its own right, we feel that it has limited, not enhanced, the respect due its quarter eagle counterpart.
Knowledgeable gold collectors realize that this issue is one of the most underrated in the entire gold series.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.