The 1839 quarter eagle is a rarer coin in Uncirculated than the better-known Charlotte and Dahlonega issues of this year yet it is priced at about half as much. It is not only the most undervalued Classic Head quarter eagle by a long shot, it is a coin whose virtues I have long extolled as among the best values in all of the rare date gold market. In Uncirculated there are probably fewer than ten known and the best I have personally seen is a PCGS MS62 that Heritage sold as Lot 6189 back in their June 2004 auction. At the recent Long Beach sale there was a small hoard of 1839 quarter eagles that was made available to me. Most of the coins were circulated but there was an NGC MS60 and a PCGS MS61 CAC that were priced at $9,500 and $13,750 respectively. I feel that the MS60 I am offering here is a nicer coin than its MS60 counterpart as this one has much of its original skin and pleasing butter-yellow color. There is a bit of chatter on the portrait and a thin, old scratch from star three to the mouth of Liberty that limits the grade. A great buy for the savvy quarter eagle specialist.
In 1838 and 1839, the first variety of the Liberty Head eagle was produced. It is easy to spot with a curved neckline on the portrait and the tip of the tiara very close to the sixth star on the obverse. The 1839/8 is the more available of the two issues but its status as a distinct type make it very popular with collectors. This dirty example has rich yellow gold undertones below russet highlights on the obverse and the reverse. This date saw intense circulation in local commerce and this coin is not an exception as it has a number of abrasions that indicate being used. But there is good detail and a significant amount of mint luster shows on both sides. This date becomes expensive in the AU grades so for many collectors, a nice PCGS EF40 to EF45 example is ideal for their gold coin type set.
Head of 1838, Large Letters reverse. There are two distinct types of eagles made in 1839. The first--and more available--is the Head of 1838 which has a mintage of 25,801. The second--and scarcer--is the Head of 1840 which has a mintage of 12,447. The 1839/8 Type of 1838 is reasonably scarce in all grades but it becomes very scarce in the mid to high AU grades and it is quite rare in Uncirculated. The present example has the luster and body of an AU55 to AU58 coin but it has been net graded as an AU53 due to some chatter in the fields. These marks are clearly visible but not overly detracting. The color of this coin is a nice natural light butter-gold hue and the strike is very sharp with the exception of the radial lines in the stars which, as on most 1839/8 eagles, are weakly impressed. The last auction trade for this variety in PCGS AU53 is Heritage 1/09: 5499 which brought $7,475. The current CAC census for this variety is just two in this grade and one approved higher. A great coin for the advanced collector of Liberty Head eagles.