I handled some very interesting coins at this year's Boston ANA show. One of the ones that I thought was the most interesting was the Garrett specimen of the 1808 quarter eagle; a coin that was both very rare from a numismatic standpoint and historic from the standpoint of its pedigree.
The 1808 quarter eagle is a one-year type with a mintage of only 2,710. It is actually a less rare coin that other quarter eagles of this era but it is famous due to its status as a one-year type and, along with the 1796 No Stars, it is probably the most famous and desirable issue.
I would estimate that there are around 100-125 examples known in all grades. When available, the 1808 quarter eagle tends to be in lower grades and examples with nice, original coloration are really rare. There are a few very choice pieces known, the finest of which is the ex Dr. Judd coin owned by a Dallas family and graded MS65 by PCGS. The second finest is a PCGS MS63 that was most recently sold as Stack's 11/08: 4176 (at $517,500). A few other Uncirculated pieces are known as well.
The Garrett 1808 quarter eagle has a great background. It was sold as Lot 742 in Bowers and Ruddy's famous Garrett I auction, held in March 1980, where it was graded "Extremely Fine-40." It sold for $30,000 which was a strong price for a circulated 1808 quarter eagle at the time. The Garrett family had obtained it from the collection of Dr. Edward Maris who was far more famous for his study of New Jersey copper coins than for his gold issues.
This coin next appears at auction as Bowers and Merena 10/04: 606 where it brought $80,500. It then sold for $94,875 as ANR 3/06: 1421. Two years later, it went for $103,500 as Lot 1894 in Heritage's 2008 ANA sale. I purchased it at the ANA at a private sealed bid sale.
The Garrett 1808 quarter eagle is now owned by a specialist in early quarter eagles who appreciates its originality and pedigree. My thanks to him for allowing me to handle this wonderful coin and for being able to share it with you.