Neil S Berman
Expert Numismatist & Rare Coin Dealer
1796 25C MS65 NGC. B-2, R.3
In 1795, Mint Director Henry William DeSaussure persuaded well known portraitist Gilbert Stuart to create a portrait of Miss Liberty to be used on future coinage. Stuart's model was Mrs. William Bingham of Philadelphia, a renowned beauty and the wife of a wealthy banker who also served as a United States Senator from 1795 to 1801. Although this new design may be distinctly more attractive than the Flowing Hair design of Robert Scot, Stuart was apparently disappointed with the new coins, according to Walter Breen (1988), resulting in the suppression of the story of Stuart's involvement with the Mint for many years thereafter. In fact, Stuart's role in developing the Draped Bust design of Miss Liberty was not published until 1861.
This is the High 6 obverse with the top of the digit 6 nearly touching the drapery. The other variety of this date, B-1, has the digit 6 about centered between the bust and border. It is believed by most that the B-1 die combination was struck first, followed by this variety. Four deliveries totaled 6,146 coins, the generally accepted mintage figure for all 1796 quarters. It is likely that the delivery of April 9, 1796, consisting of 1,800 coins were all of the B-1 coins, and the remaining three deliveries of May 27, 1796 (2,530 coins), June 14, 1796 (1,564 coins), and February 28, 1797 (252 coins) were all examples of the B-2.
This example represents an intermediate die state. The obverse has an extremely faint die crack from the border, between two dentils, to the top of I in LIBERTY. Another die crack from the border to the nearby E, is virtually invisible above that letter, but noticeable below, continuing into Liberty's hair, to the curl behind her neck, and beyond. With the exception of the eagle's head, breast, and leg feathers, this is a sharply struck example. The fields on both sides are prooflike beneath warm sea-green, magenta, and rose-brown toning. Light adjustment marks are visible on the lower half of the obverse, but these are barely discernible without careful scrutiny.
Walter Breen discussed a hoard of these coins in the estate of Col. E.H.R. Green. He related information obtained from Abe Kosoff that the hoard consisted of about 200 Mint State examples, with nearly half of those having prooflike surfaces. Kosoff and Andre DeCoppet were reportedly responsible for the disbursement of those coins, which occurred in the New York area in the early 1940s. Arthur Kagin bought a large number of these, as he still had several dozen in inventory in the late 1970s. From The Essex Palm Collection. This coin sold for $172,500.00 in January, 2007.
© 2006 Heritage Galleries. Photograph by Jody Garver. Used with the permission of Steve Ivy and Heritage Galleries.