The Rare 1854-D Quarter Eagle

I recently purchased the finest known 1854-D quarter eagle, graded MS64 by NGC, and this motivated me to write a blog celebrating this issue.

   1854-D $2.50 NGC MS64, ex Duke's Creek

1854-D $2.50 NGC MS64, ex Duke's Creek

Collectors of this series have long recognized the scarcity of this low mintage date. I estimate that between 70 and 90 exist from the original mintage of just 1,760. This date is actually a bit less rare than one might expect from the perspective of overall rarity. But the 1854-D is a very rare date in higher grades, especially approaching Uncirculated.

As with its low mintage counterparts the 1855-D and 1856-D, this date is characterized by weakness of strike and poor quality of planchets. There are a number of 1854-D quarter eagles known with areas of roughness or even mint-made laminations which most collectors regard as detracting In addition, this has become an extremely challenging issue to locate with natural color as most have been processed. I doubt if there are more than a dozen known with natural coloration and choice surfaces.

At one point, the 1854-D quarter eagle was all but unknown in Uncirculated but in the last two decades some new discoveries and gradeflation have meant that the number extent is in the area of four or five.

Two 1854-D quarter eagles stand out as being clearly the best known for this date: the NGC MS64 which I just purchased, and a PCGS MS63 which first turned up in 2004. Pedigree chains for these two dates are as follows:

  • NGC MS64:  Kansas collection via Douglas Winter Numismatics, ex Heritage 4/18: 4313 ($84,000), Barry Smith collection via Douglas Winter Numismatics, Heritage 4/06: 1511 ($80,500), Duke’s Creek collection, Heritage 2/99: 6177 ($63,250), William Miller collection, Paul Nugget, discovered by Winthrop Carner in 1996 at a small Georgia coin show.
  • PCGS MS63:  Heritage 10/11: 4690 ($86,250), ex Bowers and Merena 3/10: 3623 ($63,250), Heritage 6/04: 6200 ($34,500).

I’ve had the opportunity to examine both of these coins carefully and I believe that the NGC MS64 is clearly the finest known. It exhibits a remarkable strike for the date with full denticles on the obverse and nearly full denticles on the reverse. The stars have complete radial lines and there is just a bit of weakness seen on the usually-flat right leg and shield outline on the reverse. The color is natural and very attractive with pleasing deep gold and greenish hues seen on both sides. The surfaces are very clean and the only noticeable mint-made defect is seen on the jaw of Liberty.

This finest known 1854-D joins the finest collection of quarter eagles ever assembled; a collection I have had the pleasure of curating for over two decades. I had targeted this 1854-D when it last appeared at auction in 2006 but the collector was focused on other items from the Duke’s Creek quarter eagles. After a dozen years of patiently waiting, I was fortunate to be able to sell this exciting coin for the second time.

Are you interested in acquiring important finest known branch mint gold coins like the Duke’s Creek 1854-D quarter eagle? I handle more important gold coins of this caliber than any other dealer. Contact me at (214)675-9897 and let’s discuss your collecting goals.