Recently Sold by DWN: 1871-S 25¢, PCGS MS66 CAC

Beginning with this piece, I am initiating a series of blogs that looks at individual coins that I have sold to our clients. Some of these coins were included on my website ( while others were not. The prices on these coins range from a few thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands. All have one thing in common: they are interesting issues with a story to tell.

This first coin might surprise you. I have a well-deserved reputation as a dealer who handles a lot of great 18th and 19th century United Sates gold coins. But I also handle some really interested Bust and Seated coins, including coins such as the featured item in this blog.

I started collecting coins when I was nine years old and one of the first series which I started collecting seriously was Liberty Seated quarters. I have always loved this series and over the years, I’ve handled numerous finest known and Condition Census issues. I’ve always had a soft spot for New Orleans and San Francisco quarters so this Gem 1871-S quarter hit a real nerve for me.

1871-S 25C PCGS MS66 CAC

The 1871-S is a scarce, low-mintage issue which, like all of the other San Francisco quarters of this era, tends to be found in lower grades. There are an estimated 200-300 known with many of these showing extensive wear. A small number of Gems (maybe as many as four or five) are known, and it was likely these were all saved by foresighted collectors or local families.

The present 1871-S quarter is famous within the Seated Liberty collecting community and it is very likely the single finest known. It has blazing frosty luster with surfaces which, except for a small scrape in the right obverse field, are essentially “as made.” The coin has blast white centers with some cinnamon hues at the obverse border; the reverse shows lighter but more extensive color at the periphery.

There are two superb gems known for this date and these are as follows:

  1. This coin, ex Heritage 6/14: 30391 ($30,550), Gene Gardner collection obtained privately from Summit RC in August 2004, earlier from the Stellar Collection and probably ex Eliasberg 2: 1498. Graded MS66 and approved by CAC.
  2. A second coin graded MS66 by PCGS, this ex Stack's Bowers 8/12: 11350 where it sold for $35,938. More extensively toned than coin #1. Graded MS66 by PCGS and approved by CAC. 

The 1871-S was formerly a neglected and overlooked date and it remains somewhat overshadowed by its rarer counterpart, the 1872-S. But it is very scarce in all grades and it is almost never seen in popular collector grades. Its value has risen appreciably over the years in the VF-AU grade range, but like many Seated quarters of this era it is dominated by the famous Carson City issues which are more popular and which have multiple levels of demand.

With Gene Gardner now out of the market, there is really no single collector who is the “go to guy” for Gem Mint State Seated Liberty rarities. In my opinion, when a new collector or two gets into the market and focuses on coins such as San Francisco Seated quarters (and I think this is inevitable, given how popular San Francisco gold from this era has become in the last three years) a coin such as this Gem 1871-S quarter could easily double its current price level.

This coin is a great combination of beauty and rarity, and I was proud to offer it.



1871-S $10.00 NGC AU55

Most of the San Francisco eagles produced from 1858 through 1870 are next to impossible to locate in AU50 and higher grades. The 1871-S, while by no means common in this range, is slightly more available. This example shows nice naural golden-orange color and has a considerable amount of natural luster on both the obverse and reverse. What appears to be a planchet defect in the left obverse field near ther third star is actually an interesting die crack which is seen on about a quarter of all the known 1871-S eagles. In this case, it is quite large and this is probably among the final coins struck before the obverse die broke. The 1871-S remains unknown in strict Uncirculated and it is extremely rare in properly graded AU58. The PCGS AU55+ that sold as Heritage 9/11: 4384 brought a very strong $11,500, heralding a new-found level of respect for this date amongst collectors.