One of the innumerable highlights of the June 23 Eugene H. Gardner Collection, Part 1 US Coins Signature Auction is a gem 1871-CC quarter, one of only three Mint State survivors known for the date. This legendary quarter was one of the stars of the Battle Born Collection auctioned by Stack’s in August 2012, a phenomenal, stellar set of Carson City coinage assembled by numismatist, coin dealer, and Carson City Mint expert Rusty Goe, the author of the invaluable The Mint on Carson Street as well as the lesser-known James Crawford, Master of the Mint at Carson City: A Short, Full Life.
In every landmark collection, no matter how grand, there are certain coins that will stand out from the crowd and remain in the “collective” memory long after the headlines have been written, the press releases issued, the bidder cards thrown away, and the numismatic community looks forward to the Next Big Thing. This is one such coin, a standout in any crowd.
The surfaces of this coin are pristine and uniformly well-preserved, showing not a single mark or mentionable distraction. It has been debated in the past as to whether this piece could be some sort of special presentation piece, although we believe it is “merely” a nice, reflective prooflike business strike, fortunately preserved with loving attention — perhaps by early series specialist Ard Browning or some other unknown numismatist, to whom collectors will, nonetheless, forever owe a debt of thanks.
The prevailing color is a soft pearlescent silver-gray, interspersed with accents of olive, copper-russet, blue-gray, and amber. Despite the moderate color, vibrant luster percolates from each side. The reverse is fully struck and the obverse nearly so, save for a lack of absolute definition on a few of the left-side peripheral stars.
In MS65 grade with the added CAC green sticker, this piece is the sole finest PCGS-certified example of this second-year Carson City quarter. It is the only Gem example of this issue with the CAC endorsement, and given that and its PCGS certification, we consider it to be the most valuable 1871-CC Seated quarter. It is a matter of subjective judgment whether this piece or the Eliasberg MS65 NGC example is the more beautifulcoin, but both are of marvelous aesthetic and technical quality.
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