Southern Gold Quarter Eagles 1838-1846

Posted on 1/14/2016

This week’s article features a date by date analysis of Quarter Eagles struck from 1838-1846 from the Southern Mints. This includes Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans issues.

Collecting Southern gold coins has become extremely popular in recent years. The series can be completed by serious collectors and there are many issues with fascinating backgrounds. The biggest challenge is finding attractive examples for the date and mintmark. Collectors with patience will be well rewarded in my opinion. For the next issue I will cover the remainder of Quarter Eagles struck at the Southern Mints from 1847-1860.

Mintage: 7,880
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 65 Total, Mint State 12, Finest MS 63 (3)

This is the lowest mintage of the entire type and the only Classic Head quarter eagle with fewer than 10,000 coins struck. In the 1838 the Charlotte Mint began operations, taking advantage of nearby sources of gold. A single pair of dies was used to strike the first quarter eagles, and each coin shows crisp doubling of the mintmark, which at that time was on the obverse of the coins. Striking quality for this date is mixed, with many coins showing waviness on the cheek, presumably from a foreign substance adhering to the dies. Mint State examples are extremely rare, with only a dozen at that level graded by NGC. The finest example of the date was an NGC MS 64 that sold in 2000 for $34,500.

Mintage: 18,140
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 219 Total, Mint State 17, Finest MS 63 (1)

The 1839-C quarter eagle has a low mintage and is quite scarce. This date enjoys intense demand from collectors assembling sets of gold coins from the Charlotte Mint and has always borne a substantial premium. Two obverse dies were used this year, one with a defective 9 (traditionally called an overdate) and one with a clearly repunched 9. Mint State examples are exceedingly rare, led by a single NGC MS 63 example. Many coins seen have rough surfaces and finding one with original surfaces can be quite challenging.

Mintage: 13,674
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 113 Total, Mint State 12, Finest MS 64 (2)

Being the first quarter eagle from the Dahlonega Mint makes this issue extremely popular. Also, this is the only example of the Classic Head type from this desirable Southern mint. Although not as rare as the elusive 1838-C quarter eagle, the 1839-D issue is still a difficult date to locate. Most examples survive in circulated condition, but nice About Uncirculated examples can be found with a little luck and money. Uncirculated examples were once considered extreme rarities, but modern population reports indicate that at least a dozen Mint State examples are known, including two MS 64 example graded by NGC. One of these sold for $63,250 in April 2006. The last digit of the date on the 1839-D quarter eagle has been re-cut and appears to be an overdate, but this is incorrect. In fact, many references in the past refer to the issue as 1839/8. This should not be confused as a separate variety for the year.

Mintage: 17,781
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 315 Total, Mint State 59, Finest MS 65 (1)

This was the first year of issue for quarter eagles at the New Orleans Mint. This issue must have been saved by the public, as this is one of the more common Branch Mint dates of the type, despite a mintage below that of the 1839-C issue. Readily available in all circulated grades, the 1839-O quarter eagle can be found in nice About Uncirculated condition. Mint States examples remain relatively scarce, although several dozen have been certified. The best example of the two coins in the Smithsonian collection is a rock-solid MS 64 piece. NGC has graded one example at the MS 65 level and that coin sold at auction in September 2013 for $71,875.

Mintage: 12,822
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 142 Total, Mint State 15, Finest MS 63 (3)

The 1840-C Liberty Head quarter eagle is popular as the first Liberty Head gold coin from the Charlotte Mint. The 1840-C is scarce, but generally available in the Extremely Fine and About Uncirculated ranges. Most examples seen are well struck, and are among the sharpest from that mint. The mintmark is very small, and is the same one used on the 1841-C, 1842-C, and the 1843-C Small Date. Probably about a dozen Mint State coins are known, with the finest I have seen being the superb Harry W. Bass Jr. coin. The finest coins seen by NGC have been MS 63, and one of these sold in January 2012 for $19,550.

Mintage: 3,532
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 43 Total, Mint State 2, Finest MS 62 (1)

The 1840-D quarter eagle is one of the rarest dates from this mint, if not from the entire Liberty Head quarter eagle series. Nearly all examples are well worn. The strike on most coins of this date is very uneven. The reverse is usually much weaker than the obverse, making proper grading a tricky endeavor. Many, if not most, examples are also struck from shattered obverse and reverse dies. The die breaks radiate fully to the rims on both sides. The 1840-D quarter eagle is a major condition rarity. Just a few Mint State coins have been graded. About Uncirculated coins are also very rare. The finest known example, an NGC MS 62 coin, was part of the famed Duke’s Creek Collection. The coin last sold at auction in April 2006 for $74,750. The late, great Southern coin dealer, Jack Hancock considered this coin to be one of the highlights of the Duke's Creek collection and one of his all-time favorite coins.

Mintage: 33,580
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 112 Total, Mint State 15, Finest MS 63 (1)

A quick check of the auction records for this issue reveals that only a few coins on average are offered for sale each year. The exception was the sale of the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection, which contained seven examples. Most of the bass coins were Extremely Fine. His finest coin, however, was nearly Gem quality and typical of coins from the New Orleans Mint during that year. There are two sizes of mintmarks, one of which is very small, and the other is normal in size. This date is now seldom offered and must be considered rare in any grade. Mint State coins are very rare, with NGC having only certified 15 coins at the level. A single coin has been certified as MS 63, but has not traded at public auction.

Mintage: 10,281
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 102 Total, Mint State 6, Finest MS 62 (4)

Most 1841-C Liberty Head quarter eagles seen are decently struck, except for the centers of the obverse. The date is scarce in any grade. There have been far fewer of the date sold at auction than the 1840-C quarter eagles. Just a few are offered for sale each year. An unusual number of coins have been graded About Uncirculated. This is probably explained by resubmissions, as the number of coins seen would not support such a high number. The finest the authors have seen was the John Jay Pittman coin, which was sold raw but subsequently, graded NGC MS 62. The coin was purchased by Pittman in 1956 for $52.50 and sold in 1998 for $41,250.

Mintage: 4,164
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 53 Total, Mint State 3, Finest MS 63 (1)

As with most of the early quarter eagles struck in the 1840s, the 1841-D Liberty Head issue is usually found well worn. With a small mintage of just 4,164 coins, the issue saw extensive circulation in most cases. Although most known examples are circulated, a few Mint State coins have survived. The finest of these is the NGC MS 63 coin from the Duke’s Creek Collection, which last sold at auction in March 2010 for $48,875. Most issues of the period are very poorly made, yet this date is usually seen well struck. It is not uncommon for the date to be found with extensive die breaks on both the obverse and reverse.

Mintage: 6,729
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 59 Total, Mint State 3, Finest MS 65 (1)

As the low mintage would indicate, the 1842-C Liberty Head quarter eagle is a rare coin in any grade. Most seen are well circulated and poorly struck, especially on the centers of the obverse. A small die break is evident on the reverse from the tip of the left wing in to the rim. This is observed on every example we have seen. When offered for sale, the typical coin is usually well circulated, and coins with any luster remaining are seldom seen. Only a few others have crossed the Mint State barrier, and those coins just barely make the grade. The Smithsonian coin is a modest Extremely Fine example. The finest known example of this date is the ex Stanley Elrod coin graded MS 65 and is by far the finest graded. The coin last sold at auction in February 1999 for $90,850.

1842-D Quarter Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

Mintage: 4,643
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 65 Total, Mint State 4, Finest MS 62 (1)

The 1842-D Liberty Head quarter eagle is a very scarce coin in any grade. Only 4,643 coins were struck for the year at the Dahlonega Mint, and it is thought that fewer than 100 coins survive in all grades. Extensively circulated and flawed coins are the norm, and the date ranks as one of the most difficult to locate in high grade. The date is usually found with a decent strike but is sometimes seen with an area of roughness on the neck of Liberty. The first three digits of the date are repunched on most of the examples seen. The finest seen by the authors has been the NGC MS 62 coin that is a part of the Duke’s Creek Collection. The coin last sold at public auction in April 2006 for $57,500.

1842-O Quarter Eagle
Click images to enlarge.

Mintage: 19,800
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 148 Total, Mint State 14, Finest MS 64 (2)

With just 19,800 coins struck, the 1842-O Liberty Head issue has one of the lowest mintages of any New Orleans quarter eagle. The date is scarce in any grade and usually seen in lower grades. The population reports indicate that slightly more than a dozen coins have been graded Mint State. It is the author's experience that the coin is far rarer than that, and that the high numbers probably represent multiple submissions of the same examples. The date is often, but not always, seen very weakly struck in the central portions. The Smithsonian example is in lustrous About Uncirculated condition. NGC lists two coins at the MS 64 level, but neither have appeared at public auction.

1843-C, Small Date, Crosslet 4
Mintage: Unknown, included as part of the year’s total mintage of 26,064
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 51 Total, Mint State 5, Finest MS 62 (1)

Based on die shipments, it has been estimated that the mintage for the Small Date, Crosslet 4 is 2,988 pieces. There is no certainty of that, and the mintage can only be an educated guess. The 1843-C, Small Date is clearly the rarer of the two for the year and is indeed the rarest Charlotte Mint quarter eagle. The 1843-C Small Date Liberty Head quarter eagle is unique, with a characteristic die bulge that makes it instantly recognizable. All known examples are also seen with a die break running from the tip of the bust to the rim. Most coins of this variety are also seen with a sharp wire rim on the obverse. The 1843-C, Small Date is rare in any grade, and only six or seven coins would qualify as Mint State. The finest graded by NGC has been a single example that sold at auction in January 2003 for $23,000.

1843-C, Large Date, Plain 4
Mintage: Part of total mintage of 26,064
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 198 Total, Mint State 18, Finest MS 66 (1)

Based on population reports, it is clear that the 1843-C, Large Date, Plain 4, Liberty Head quarter eagle is much more available than the Small Date variety. Examples of the date are seen from well-worn to at least one Gem. Most of the coins are well worn, and the date becomes increasingly rare in the higher states of preservation. Probably 150 to 200 examples are known for the date and variety. The date is sharply recut. On the reverse, the mintmark is larger than on the Small Date, and it is doubled to the left. Most coins are weakly struck on the central portions of the obverse, sometimes severely so.

Mintage: 36,209
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 268 Total, Mint State 21, Finest MS 63 (1)

With a mintage of 36,209 pieces of the 1843-D Liberty Head quarter eagle is the most generously produced quarter eagle from the Dahlonega Mint. All specimens of it are found with a small date. The reverse, however, is seen with a small mintmark (the more common issue) and a large mintmark. The mintage for the year saw extensive circulation, and well-worn coins are the ones most commonly seen. The date can be found with relative ease in grades through About Uncirculated. Many consider the date the most likely candidate for a type coin from the Dahlonega Mint. Mint State 1843-D quarter eagles are quite scarce however, with only 20 or so coins at that level. The MS 60 Smithsonian example is one of the finest we have seen.

1843-O, Small Date, Crosslet 4
Mintage: 288,002
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 511 Total, Mint State 80, Finest MS 66 (1)

As the high mintage would suggest, the 1843-O, Small Date, Crosslet 4, Liberty Head quarter eagle is the most common issue from the New Orleans Mint of the denomination. A fair number of coins are known, but mostly in the lower grades. Harry W. Bass Jr. must have really found this date an interesting study; he owned 11 examples. The best coin from the Bass menagerie was graded an astounding prooflike MS 64. The mintmark for the date is much larger than on previous issues from the New Orleans Mint. Although the 1843-O Small Date is relatively available in circulated grades, Mint State coins are usually quite scarce, and only one has been graded at the gem level. That coin sold at auction in March 2013 for $25,850.

1843-O, Large Date, Plain 4
Mintage: 76,000
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 133 Total, Mint State 18, Finest MS 64 (1)

The 1843-O, Large Date, Plain 4, Liberty Head quarter eagle is much scarcer than the Small Date variety, with fewer coins being offered at auction in all grades. Nearly every specimen seen of this date has a rough area of die rust on the neck of Liberty. Although many are weakly struck, a few examples remain that are relatively sharp. The Large Date variety is easily recognizable because the first digit of the date is much farther left and touches the point of the bust. The finest example offered in recent years was an MS 63 coin, which sold in 2007 for $15,525

Mintage: 11,622
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 117 Total, Mint State 13, Finest MS 62 (6)

The most notable aspect of this date is the extremely poor quality of manufacture. Every coin seen is weakly struck, making grading a difficult task. The feather details on the reverse are always weak and appear worn. The 1844-C Liberty Head quarter eagle is scarce in all grades and prohibitively rare in high grade. Just over a dozen coins have reached the Mint State level from NGC. The Harry W. Bass Jr. and Eliasberg coins are probably the finest survivors known. As with the 1843-C Large Date and all years thereafter, the mintmark is much larger than others.

Mintage: 17,332
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 159 Total, Mint State 21, Finest MS 63 (6)

The 1844-D Liberty Head quarter eagle is one of the more readily available dates from the Dahlonega Mint. Circulated examples can be acquired with moderate diligence. The date is most often seen poorly struck in the central portions of the obverse. This can make the issue more difficult to grade. Some pieces are found surprisingly well struck, and should command a premium when offered. About two dozen coins have been graded at the Mint State level by NGC. This information is probably a bit misleading, as the higher numbers on the population reports are the result of the resubmissions. The finest example known for the date is probably the fantastic Duke’s Creek coin, which was graded a few years ago at the MS 63 level. The coin from the famous Pittman collection also graded NGC MS 63 and sold at auction in April 2014 for $17,000.

Mintage: 19,460
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 158 Total, Mint State 9, Finest MS 63 (1)

With a moderate mintage for the Dahlonega Mint and era, the 1845-D Liberty Head quarter eagle is offered for sale on a fairly regular basis. Most of these have been in grades from Extremely Fine to About Uncirculated. The 1845-D quarter eagle is usually seen with a decent strike for this mint. Some are found with rather obvious die clashing, mostly visible on the reverse near the eagle’s neck. The 1845-D quarter eagle is a true rarity in Mint State. It is much rarer than the 1844-D. The finest survivor is the coin that passed from the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection into the Duke’s Creek Collection of Dahlonega gold.

Mintage: 4,000
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 59 Total, Mint State 1, Finest MS 60 (1)

At one time the 1845-O Liberty Head quarter eagle was considered a major rarity. The mintage was not recorded in the mint director’s annual report of 1845, and the coin was not publicized until B. Max Mehl supposedly discovered the issue. The date sold for more than $300 in the 1930s, a very large sum for the time. The 1845-O quarter eagle is scarce in all grades, but not as unavailable as would be expected from the low mintage. However, the date is a major rarity in Mint State. NGC has graded only one example in Mint State. Some examples of the date are seen with a die defect to the right of Liberty’s neck. The mint mark is large and the 18 of the date is boldly recut.

Mintage: 4,808
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 64 Total, Mint State 6, Finest MS 63 (1)

A fire in July of 1844 closed the Charlotte Mint until 1846. Production was limited, and therefore, the 1846-C Liberty Head quarter eagle is rare in all grades. The mintage of 4,808 coins is one of the lowest for the series. One or two high grade coins are known; otherwise most are well worn. On average, just a few examples are offered for sale in any given year. The most interesting striking characteristic for the 1846-C quarter eagle is the die rust that is so clearly evident on the obverse. This can be seen even on well-worn coins. Coins from clashed dies are also not uncommon. Some may be seen with matte-like surfaces, probably the result of saltwater submersion.

Mintage: 19,303
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 173 Total, Mint State 16, Finest MS 64 (1)

Like the 1845-D Liberty Head quarter eagle, the 1846-D issue is usually found in grades ranging from Very Fine to About Uncirculated. Coins of this date cross the auction block with regularity. However, Mint State examples are very rare; only about a dozen or so have been certified as Uncirculated by NGC. The finest known is probably the NGC MS 63 Duke’s Creek Collection example. Harry W. Bass Jr. was fascinated with this date and is credited with the discovery of the D over D variety. When his collection was sold, it contained multiple 1846-D and the 1846-D/D examples. The repunched mintmark variety is the rarer of the two types and is very elusive in Mint State. The Smithsonian example has been listed as Mint State in several references, but is actually About Uncirculated.

Mintage: 62,000
NGC Population (1/10/2016): 280 Total, Mint State 22, Finest MS 66 (1)

The typical 1846-O Liberty Head quarter eagle is heavily circulated with the softness of strike often seen on coins from the New Orleans Mint in that era. A fairly large number of coins have been graded by the services in varying states of concentration of known examples was in the Harry W. Bass Jr. Collection, which boasted 10 coins. The Pittman example is the finest known. The coin sold in 1998 and has been graded by NGC as MS 66. The mintmark is large on all examples, and the last two digits of the date are tilted and very heavily impressed. On some coins the last two digits of the date are also repunched. The finest NGC to appear at auction was an NGC MS 64 that sold in October 2011 for $23,000.

Jeff Garrett bio

Stay Informed

Want news like this delivered to your inbox once a month? Subscribe to the free NGC eNewsletter today!


You've been subscribed to the NGC eNewsletter.

Unable to subscribe to our eNewsletter. Please try again later.

Articles List

Add Coin

Join NGC for free to add coins, track your collection and participate in the NGC Registry. Learn more >

Join NGC

Already a member? Sign In
Add to NGC Coin Registry Example
The NGC Registry is not endorsed by or associated with PCGS or CAC. PCGS is a registered trademark of Collectors Universe, Inc. CAC is a trademark of Certified Acceptance Corporation.