1823/2 Capped Bust Quarters: The Rarest Quarters Made for Circulation

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by NSP, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    When asked to name the rarest date for US quarters, collectors may think of dates like the 1796 Draped Bust, the 1901-S Barber, or the 1916 Standing Liberty. In actuality, the two rarest quarters in terms of number of examples still in existence are the 1827/3/2 and 1823/2 Capped Bust quarters. While the 1827/3/2 is rarer than the 1823/2, it was a collector-only issue and was later restruck, and was never intended to circulate. Therefore, the 1823/2 is the rarest US quarter date that was intended to circulate, with the next closest dates probably being the 1870-CC and 1871-CC Seated Liberty quarters.


    The 1823/2 quarters were struck with a die that was leftover from 1822 and then overdated prior to being hardened to strike coins. The reverse die is characterized by an incomplete upper arrow shaft and lower arrowhead, which were later repaired by hand prior to being used to strike more quarters in future years. In “Early United States Quarters, 1796-1838” by Steve Tompkins, it’s stated that it’s likely that only 1,800 quarters were struck bearing the date 1823/2, and after nearly two centuries of attrition, only around 30 still exist. In “Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint, 1797-1838” by Rory Rea et al., a wonderful photographic census of 30 1823/2 quarters is presented. I was curious to see if I could locate images of the coins presented in the book, and much to my surprise, I was actually able to find images of all 28 plated examples in the Rea book that have traded publicly in the last 150 years. The only two coins in the Rea et al. photographic census that I could not find images of online were the two coins currently impounded in museums (one is in the National Numismatic Collection in Washington, D.C. and one is in the Durham Museum in Omaha, Nebraska).


    Below are the best images I could find of the 28 1823/2 quarters. It’s interesting to note that these 28 quarters are a microcosm of capped bust quarters overall, as many are heavily worn, many show evidence of cleaning, some are holed and plugged, and some have graffiti. Something interesting that I learned when searching for images was that nearly all 1823/2 quarters available up until the mid 1900s were lower grade, until some high grade examples in Europe found their way back to the US. I’ve read of high grade large cents and gold coins being repatriated from Europe, but this is the first time that I’ve heard of bust quarters being rediscovered in Europe, so that was interesting to come across.


    Aside from the 28 examples pictured here and the two examples impounded in museums, there are two other unplated coins that are listed in the Tompkins book. According to Tompkins, these are an MS and an AG/FR that haven’t been publicly traded in awhile, and the fact that there are no images of the coins available makes it difficult to track them. It’s possible that they could be duplicates of other coins that have been plated, though there’s no way to know for certain. Perhaps these unplated examples will turn up sometime in the future.


    Something that I wish existed is a book dedicated to this rare date, similar to how there are dedicated books for the 1794 dollar, 1796-1797 half dollars, 1802 half dime, and 1822 half eagle. Maybe someday someone will write that book, but in the meantime, here are the coins:


    Rea #1 / Tompkins #1

    B154134D-A7C1-4828-BC73-61561706BFBF.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS PF64
    • Last public offering: 2014
    • Image credit: PCGS TrueView

    Rea #2 / Tompkins #2

    77AE7BDF-6791-415B-8F91-CC24863E4091.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS AU58+
    • Last public offering: 2014
    • Image credit: PCGS TrueView

    Rea #3 / Tompkins #4

    0802BC2E-8960-448C-9FA0-1B8F10A8AF19.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS AU55
    • Last public offering: 2002
    • Image credit: NNP/Superior

    Rea #4 / Tompkins #5

    10747339-35CC-4C53-86D5-06066693F31F.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS AU58
    • Last public offering: 2015
    • Image credit: PCGS TrueView

    Rea #5 / Tompkins #6

    FB91D4C9-83D6-4296-9B60-5DE5D6A80273.jpeg
    • Grade: NGC AU50
    • Last public offering: 2019
    • Image credit: NGC

    Rea #6 / Tompkins #7

    8107A5D2-4992-466B-84F5-71CF2BAB1BBF.jpeg
    • Grade: NGC AU50
    • Last public offering: 2004
    • Image credit: Stacks/Bowers

    Rea #7 / Tompkins #9

    01164399-3F69-4ED9-AD26-28D0D63626F5.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS XF40
    • Last public offering: 2000
    • Image credit: NNP/Stacks

    Rea #8 / Tompkins #8

    5ADD5033-00F1-4C6D-B706-CA4B39FA86F5.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS XF45
    • Last public offering: 2021
    • Image credit: Harry Laibstain Rare Coin

    Rea #9 / Tompkins #10

    53019A72-3FEB-4CDD-99E1-E685105B1EC4.jpeg
    • Grade: ANACS VF35
    • Last public offering: 2004
    • Image credit: Heritage

    Rea #10 / Tompkins #11
    EA0523EC-C8B5-4CBD-90DC-674CBA6A1E70.jpeg
    • Grade: NGC VF30
    • Last public offering: 2009
    • Image credit: Heritage
     
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  3. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Part 2:


    Rea #11 / Tompkins #12

    FC658D32-4946-4146-B783-98AD91877FE0.jpeg
    • Grade: ANACS VF Details
    • Last public offering: 2008
    • Image credit: Heritage

    Rea #12 / Tompkins #N/A

    54133E82-4EEA-4C5F-82A6-59C3F16E89A1.jpeg
    • Grade: F (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1918
    • Image credit: NNP/Chapman

    Rea #13 / Tompkins #13

    EA39B46B-6CB0-40C9-9148-E2B14F75B260.jpeg
    • Grade: F (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1975
    • Image credit: NNP/Stacks

    Rea #14 / Tompkins #14

    0A04AF60-ADFC-4CF8-834C-4FABB0264E0B.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS VG10
    • Last public offering: 2009
    • Image credit: Stacks/Bowers

    Rea #15 / Tompkins #15

    CFDE503C-C521-40F3-B254-629838DDA7C8.jpeg
    • Grade: VG (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1982
    • Image credit: NNP/New Netherlands

    Rea #16 / Tompkins #16
    • Impounded in Durham Museum (Omaha, Nebraska)
    • (No image)

    Rea #17 / Tompkins #17
    • National Numismatic Collection (Washington, D.C.)
    • (No image)

    Rea #18 / Tompkins #18

    A6D2ACA3-7442-4B54-AE57-6142E628CD8E.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS VG8
    • Last public offering: 2017
    • Image credit: Stacks/Bowers

    Rea #19 / Tompkins #22

    40891E5C-C847-4007-8F5B-5848A31181ED.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS G4
    • Last public offering: 2006
    • Image credit: Heritage

    Rea #20 / Tompkins #25

    F04CE64C-656B-4676-BE90-AF0CF1ACD2E2.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS G6
    • Last public offering: 2019
    • Image credit: Stacks/Bowers
     
  4. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Part 3:


    Rea #21 / Tompkins #19

    32ACDA22-24DE-480D-BA08-1D4D66210AB0.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS VG8
    • Last public offering: 2019
    • Image credit: PCGS TrueView

    Rea #22 / Tompkins #21

    79AED7D4-33AE-4AF1-9B61-78D8CC075F5D.jpeg
    • Grade: NGC G4
    • Last public offering: 2006
    • Image credit: Heritage

    Rea #23 / Tompkins #29

    8281A35F-2130-43E1-A776-3713064BEEA0.jpeg
    • Grade: G Details (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1980
    • Image credit: NNP/Kagin

    Rea #24 / Tompkins #23

    EAEEDDB7-3912-4512-9365-2835A9540710.jpeg
    • Grade: G (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1890
    • Image credit: Archive .org/Chapman

    Rea #25 / Tompkins #20

    9159025B-10C5-439C-9DFC-2B8F6BCBBC9C.jpeg
    • Grade/ G (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1979
    • Image credit: NNP Paramount

    Rea #26 / Tompkins #27

    F64FEDB8-8E23-4DDB-A687-4430D942A8C3.jpeg
    • Grade: G Details (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1959
    • Image credit: NNP/New Netherlands

    Rea #27 / Tompkins #26

    44D7BE2C-91E3-404F-B793-FFFA5363655F.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS G Details
    • Last public offering: 2014
    • Image credit: Stacks/Bowers

    Rea #28 / Tompkins #28

    99F584A5-5B6A-4AC0-A282-569896FB2385.jpeg
    • Grade: PCGS G4
    • Last public offering: 1998
    • Image credit: PCGS TrueView

    Rea #29 / Tompkins #24

    A6DD2C0E-1DBE-43CF-B379-93853F9FCF89.jpeg
    • Grade: G (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 1941
    • Image credit: NNP/Mehl

    Rea #30 / Tompkins #30

    6B8666F4-32B1-4EE5-86E2-AC140BE908F2.jpeg
    • Grade: AG Details (Raw)
    • Last public offering: 2007
    • Image credit: NNP/Stacks
     
  5. potty dollar 1878

    potty dollar 1878 Well-Known Member

    Nice thanks for the read and the nice coins pictured that Tompkins #5 has toning from another dimension,beautiful
     
    NSP likes this.
  6. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    It’s definitely a nice one! I believe that it was the example that was in the D. Brent Pogue collection.
     
  7. thomas mozzillo

    thomas mozzillo Supporter! Supporter

    Excellent work. Thank you for posting this. I noticed the #1 is a Proof coin. Do you know if this was struck the same year as the circulation strikes or how many proofs were made?
     
    NSP likes this.
  8. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Good question. The reverse die was re-engraved to complete the arrows before the reverse was used to strike 1824/2 quarters. There were 16,000 quarters struck at the end of 1823, and it’s believed that this group made up the entire mintage of quarters dated 1824/2. Based on that, the 1823/2 proof would had to have been struck prior to the end of 1823.

    I don’t know how many proofs were originally struck, and unfortunately I don’t think there’s a way to ever find out. However, this is the only known surviving proof. I suppose there could be another proof coin that’s been off the market for 150 years, but that would be unlikely.
     
    thomas mozzillo likes this.
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