Coin Rarities & Related Topics: News and Analysis regarding scarce coins, coin markets, and the coin collecting community, #233
A Weekly CoinWeek Column by Greg Reynolds ............
The most exciting consignment to the Heritage ANA auction is the pre-1840 U.S. material from Oliver Jung. Last week’s column covered the Jackman-Jung 1794 Apple Cheek Large Cent. Earlier, the Norweb 1797 half was analyzed, which has since been publicly revealed as being part of Oliver Jung’s consignment. The current topic is 1818/5 quarters in general, with detailed discussion of the Newman-Green-Jung 1818/5, which has the most attractive obverse (front) of any Capped Bust Quarter that I have ever seen.
Although a German who now apparently lives in Switzerland, Oliver Jung became famous among collectors of U.S. coins when his comprehensive type set was auctioned by ANR in New York on July 23, 2004. Certainly, Jung’s collection in 2004 and the Madison Collection are the two best U.S. type sets to have been auctioned over the last twenty years. The Madison Collection, an extended type set with logical embellishments, was auctioned in Orlando during Jan. 2008.
Much of Eric Newman’s collection has been auctioned by Heritage in 2013 and earlier this year. Newman’s early U.S. quarters were sold on Nov. 15 in New York. Newman’s bust quarters and early silver dollars were the highlights of his collection of U.S. coins. While he had some die varieties, it seems that Newman collected early U.S. silver coins ‘by date,’ with some major varieties.
Although there are ten die varieties of 1818 quarters, just two are collected by people who assemble sets ‘by date,’ the 1818 ‘Normal Date’ and the 1818/5 overdate.
These are also popular choices for type sets, as select 1818 and 1818/5 quarters are available and do not command a premium over other dates of the same Capped Bust ‘Large’ Quarter design type. Certainly, it would be unusual for an 1823/2 or an 1827 quarter to be chosen for a type set, as these are extremely rare.
There are a substantial number of surviving 1818 quarters that grade above EF-45.
In grades below EF-45, any date from 1815 to 1822 is not very difficult to find. The 1828 is one of the least scarce, ‘Large Size’ Capped Bust Quarters as well. Budget minded collectors who are interested in silver quarters may wish to read a discussion of silver quarters that cost less than $500 each. The Newman-Green-Jung 1818/5, in contrast, costs more than most sports cars.
I. What are Capped Bust Quarters?
The first type of Capped Bust Quarters was struck from 1815 to 1828, and is typically called ‘Large Size’ or ‘Large Diameter.’ The design of these is credited to John Reich. ‘Large’ Capped Bust Quarters were specified to each have a diameter of seventeen sixteenths (17/16) of an inch (about 26.99 mm) , while ‘Small’ Capped Bust Quarters, those dating from 1831 to ’38, were specified to have a diameter of 0.95 inch (nineteen twentieths), approximately 24.13 millimeters.
In actuality, there are are several differences; the two types of Capped Bust Quarters are really different designs by different artists.
Some researchers agree that it was William Kneass who substantially re-worked Reich’s earlier designs. Moreover, those of the first type feature the Latin phrase ‘E. Pluribus Unum’ on the reverse (back), which is not present on Capped Bust Quarters of the second type (1831-38). This phrase is not easy to translate, and literal translations are often misleading. In my view, the phrase ‘From Many Emerged One’ is the best translation. This phrase is a tribute to the independence, diversity, unification and growth of the United States.
Although the whole series of Capped Bust ‘Large’ Quarters is very scarce relative to most other types of U.S. silver coins, 1818 ‘Normal Date’ and 1818/5 overdate quarters are not rare dates. An 1818/5 in Good-04 or -06 grade may retail for around $215. Overall, a type set of silver quarters is not difficult to assemble, although a decent 1796 would be relatively expensive.
The fourteen design types of silver quarters are:
- Draped Bust, Small Eagle (1796 only)
- Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle (1804-07)
- Capped Bust, “Large” (1815-28)
- Capped Bust, “Small” (1831-38)
- Liberty Seated, No Drapery, No Motto (1838-40)
- Liberty Seated, With Drapery, No Motto (1840-53 and 1856-65)
- Liberty Seated, Arrows & Rays, No Motto (1853 only)
- Liberty Seated, Arrows, No Rays, No Motto (1854-55)
- Liberty Seated, with Motto (1866-73 and 1875-91)
- Liberty Seated, Arrows, Motto (1873-74)
- Barber (1892-1916)
- Standing Liberty, Open Chest (1916-17)
- Standing Liberty, Covered Chest (1917-30)
- Washington (1932-64, plus various later, contrived silver issues).
II. Circulated 1818/5 Quarters
The overdate aspect of the 1818/5 is subtle. In some cases, traces of a five underneath the second eight are barely noticeable with magnification. Evidently, a die that had been intended for use in the production of 1815 quarters was re-punched for use in the production of quarters in 1818. Alternately, a numeral five could have been punched into a die in 1818 by accident and then an eight was punched over it to correct the error. Either way, this issue is an overdate, albeit a subtle one. Indeed, as this overdate is so subtle, a collector of Capped Bust Quarters ‘by date’ might figure that he or she needs just one 1818 quarter for a complete set.
Circulated 1818/5 quarters are not extremely expensive. In April 2012, Heritage sold an NGC authenticated 1818/5 that is damaged and is said to have the ‘details’ of a Good grade coin, for just $79. Another non-gradable 1818/5, which NGC experts indicate has the details of an Extremely Fine grade coin, brought $646.25 in Sept. 2012. Perhaps a better value is a non-gradable 1818/5 with Fine details overall, and scratches on the reverse (back), which Heritage auctioned for $158.70 in 2011.
In Sept. 2010, at the Long Beach Expo, Heritage auctioned a PCGS graded Good-04 1818/5 for $184. In Dec. 2011, an NGC graded VF-35 piece brought $977.50 in New York.
In August 2011, Stack’s-Bowers auctioned a PCGS graded VF-25 1818/5 for $603.75 at the ANA Convention that year. In March 2013, Stack’s-Bowers auctioned this exact same PCGS graded VF-25 1818/5, though, by then, it had received a sticker of approval from the CAC. In 2013, it sold for $881.25.
EF-40 to AU-50 1818/5 quarters tend to retail for more than $2000. If a dealer asks for much less than $2000 for an 1818/5 that grades in the EF-40 to AU-50 range, it would be a good idea to have an independent expert examine such a coin, as it could have serious problems.
In Dec. 2013, Heritage auctioned an NGC graded and CAC approved AU-58 1818/5 for $3172.50. This might have been a good deal, though there is a need to examine coins before drawing conclusions about them. I have not seen any of the sub-60 grade 1818/5 quarters mentioned here.
There are hundreds of circulated 1818/5 quarters in existence. Moreover, quite a few uncirculated (‘mint state’) 1818/5 quarters are around. The PCGS CoinFacts site estimates that “1,250” survive in total, in all states of preservation. I doubt that there are that many; perhaps there are 875. More than one hundred of these are uncirculated, though not all are gradable. Coins that have serious problems should not receive numerical grades.
III. The Newman-Green-Jung 1818/5
Not only is the Newman-Green-Jung coin the finest 1818/5 quarter that I have ever seen or heard about, it has the most stunning obverse of any business strike Capped Bust Quarter that I recollect at the moment. The NGC graded “MS-67+” and CAC approved, Newman-Green 1815 is startling, too. The Newman-Green 1818/5, however, jumps out of the holder and grabs the viewer.
Indeed, as CAC founder John Albanese remarks, “the obverse is amazing.” Matt Kleinsteuber, lead grader and trader for NFC coins, declares that “the obverse is beyond spectacular, incredibly breathtaking.”
Much of the obverse (front) is characterized by somewhat circular bands of off-white, orange-russet, red, russet and blue tones, with green, blue and more russet hues in the outer fields. Furthermore, the underlying luster is brilliant. The obverse of this coin is even more attractive in actuality than it appears to be in published images. I was awestruck when I viewed the Newman 1818/5 in Illinois and again in New York in 2013.
It is not being suggested that this is a nearly perfect coin, or that it grades higher than 67. Its grade is in the middle of the 67 range, and its grade reaches that level mostly because of the eye appeal of the obverse. There are some, noticeable minor hairlines and contact marks. This coin naturally retoned after having been moderately to heavily dipped, probably during the 1930s.
For certified ‘mint state’ grade Capped Bust ‘Large’ Quarters, the Newman-Green-Jung 1818/5 is more original than most, though it scores much higher in eye appeal and technical categories than it does in the category of originality. The few hairlines and contact marks are very small and are not distracting. Besides, most of the imperfections are on the reverse
The reverse (back) is very attractive, though not incredible like the obverse. The bright-white central portion of the reverse draws attention to the dipping that occurred decades ago. The orange-russet, red-russet and blue toning on the reverse is mostly about the outer design elements and outer fields.
This coin is better struck than most 1818/5 quarters. Yet, it is not fully detailed. Technical factors and eye appeal account for most of the numerical grade of a ‘mint state’ (MS) 19th century silver coin, according to widely accepted grading criteria. IF the reverse had the eye appeal of the obverse, and IF this coin had half as many hairlines, it would surely have received a 68 grade from NGC, maybe even a 68+ grade!
The Newman-Jung coin is the only 1818/5 quarter to be graded MS-67 by NGC or CAC. An 1818 ‘Normal Date’ is PCGS graded MS-67, which is in the “High Desert Collection.” NGC has also graded one 1818 ‘Normal Date’ Quarter as MS-67. CAC has not approved an 1818 ‘Normal Date’ at the MS-67 level and has green-stickered two at the MS-66 level.
NGC reports having graded two 1818/5 overdates as “MS-66.” The coin that Heritage auctioned in Sept. 2012, however, was labeled by NGC in a misleading manner, as “1818/5”despite the fact that it is not of the B-1 die pairing that is generally referred to as the 1818/5 overdate. It is of the B-3 die pairing, which is generally categorized as an 1818 ‘Normal Date.’ The same obverse die was modified to remove the underlying numeral five. So, it may be true that one of the two that the NGC reports as having graded “MS-66” is not really an 1818/5. If the coin sold in Sept. 2012 was truly an 1818/5, it would not be a contender for one of the top five, anyway.
In Sept. 2005, Heritage auctioned an NGC graded MS-66 1818/5, which I have never seen. I would appreciate more information about it from anyone who has seen it or knows about its pedigree. It is not the John Pittman 1818/5, which might qualify for a 66 grade in accordance with current grading standards.
PCGS has graded two 1818/5 quarters as MS-66 and none higher. One of those two is the Eliasberg 1818/5.
IV. The Eliasberg 1818/5
The Eliasberg 1818/5 is excellent. It was auctioned by Bowers & Merena (of Wolfeboro NH) in New York during April 1997. It was later offered in the Heritage Platinum Night event of Jan. 4, 2012 in Orlando. I was in attendance and my impression was that a commitment to pay more than $60,000 would have been needed to buy that coin, which did not then sell. The Eliasberg 1818/5 re-appeared in Las Vegas in 2013 and reportedly sold for $66,125. On Nov. 15, 2013, the Newman-Green 1818/5 realized $176,250.
Before I saw the Newman-Green-Jung coin, the Eliasberg and Pittman coins were the two best 1818/5 quarters that I had ever seen. All of Pittman’s quarters were not certified when the firm of David Akers auctioned them in 1998. Although the Eliasberg and Pittman 1818/5 quarters score higher in the category of originality than the Newman-Green piece and are very attractive, these two are not spectacular. Neither stuns the viewer.
The Eliasberg 1818/5 has never been cleaned and maybe was never dipped. The toning is natural and mellow. The dominant sandy, russet-tan-gray blend of toning is hard to describe and hard to remember. The reverse is a lighter, sandy, brown-russet-tan, for the most part. On both sides, there are relatively darker green-brown-russet tones about the design elements. The color-blends of natural toning on 19th century silver coins: may vary considerably in different areas on the same coin, can never be precisely described, and are often very inaccurately depicted in photographs.
There is some underlying original luster on the obverse, more so on the reverse. There are also touches of blue on the reverse. There are even fewer hairlines and contact marks on the Eliasberg coin than on the Newman coin. I could understand why some collectors would prefer the Eliasberg 1818/5, even though the Newman coin merits a higher numerical grade. Collectors may weigh factors differently from the ways in which the same factors are weighed by the grading services. The mellow and softly pleasing nature of the Eliasberg 1818/5 is much different from the intensely stunning nature of Newman-Green-Jung 1818/5.
©2014 Greg Reynolds