Featured Large Capped Bust Quarters

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by NSP, Sep 23, 2017.

  1. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Large Capped Bust Quarters Collection

    I have tentatively completed my large sized Capped Bust quarter date set! Many are aware that bust quarters tend to be less plentiful than their other bust-style counterparts, and I definitely got to experience that first hand over the past couple years. While these are all in the Good to Good+ range, for the most part they are pretty decent when you consider how coins of this type have been abused over the years. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of large capped bust quarters are either lower grade than my coins or damaged. It should also go without saying that I don’t have (and likely will never have) either the 1823/2 or the 1827/3/2, and at the moment I don’t have an 1824/2 (hence “tentatively complete”), but that may change in the future. That said, I did do my best to get respectable examples for the grade for each date, so I am overall very proud of the set. All mintages and rarity ratings are from Steve Tompkins’ book on the subject, which is discussed later.


    Browning-1, R.1, Mintage: 89,235. The very first bust quarter I ever bought is fittingly the first year of issue. The reason I even decided to get an 1815 in the first place is a fairly amusing story. When I was younger and less aware of the accuracy of price guides in coin magazines, I noticed that 1801 and 1802 half dollars had seemingly increased in price significantly in the guides over a couple years (in hindsight what actually happened is the guides caught up with reality). I thought it would be a lucrative idea to try to buy another early date coin with a relatively low mintage that seemed underpriced and hope for the price to go up after I bought it. I ended up finding the 1815 quarter in my price guide and decided that it would be a worthwhile candidate. The problem was that it wasn’t particularly easy to find one, and I only ever saw a worn example that was AG at best. A few years later I decided to try to acquire an 1815 quarter and ended up getting this one on eBay. It has a few scratches in the left obverse field, but I don’t really care all that much because it’s my first bust quarter. Image is mine.

    1815 25c.PNG


    Browning-1, R.2, Mintage: 361,174. This is the most common year of large sized Capped Bust quarters by far. It has ten different die marriages, ranging from very common (R.1) to rare (R.5+). I currently have two 1818/5 quarters, both of which were cherrypicked from eBay. One of them is graded G4 by NGC, so I’m especially proud to say that I cherrypicked a coin in an NGC holder! (But do not hate on NGC too much, since I’ve seen several unattributed in PCGS holders as well.) You can’t easily see the 5 beneath the 8 on either of them, but the top of the 5 is fairly visible with a loupe. I was able to attribute them using a very obvious diagnostic on the reverse. I hate to give up what this diagnostic is because that takes the fun out of it, but there is a certain element on the reverse of the 1818/5 that is different from all the other 1818 die marriages. Image is mine.

    1818over5 25c.PNG


    Browning-6, R.4, Mintage: 361,174. While 1818 is the most common date of the series, this die marriage is one of the less common. What really sets this one apart from the rest are the reverse die cracks. My example was very close to the end of the reverse die’s life, with four different cracks running from the rim to the center of the coin. This is one of the most destroyed reverse dies for this series; only the two 1825 varieties with reverse cuds come to mind as comparable varieties. Graded G4 by NGC and received a green CAC sticker (my first one!). Image is from GreatCollections.

    1818 25c.PNG


    Browning-1 (Large 9), R.5-, Mintage: 144,000. This is my rarest die marriage, though I think it would be more appropriate to call it R.4. It’s a little weak around the date on the obverse, but it has a satisfying original dark gray color that I like. Graded G4 by PCGS. Image is mine.

    1819 25c.PNG


    Browning-3 (Medium 0), R.3, Mintage: 127,444. At first this one appears to be a nice gray color, but if you shine light on it, you can see that it has very colorful toning around the rims. Usually when you think of a toned coin you think of a high mint state coin, not a low grade coin like this one! It probably spent many years in an album with high sulfur content. This is also the first coin I’ve purchase from GreatCollections; I highly recommend checking them out. Graded G6 by NGC. Image is from GreatCollections.

    1820 25c.PNG


    Browning-3, R.2, Mintage: 216,851. Another nice dark gray quarter. Oddly enough, this coin’s certification number is right before that of my 1820 quarter- in fact, it was even auctioned by GreatCollections the same week as the 1820. When I got the 1820, I was sad that I couldn’t get the 1821 too due to my budget at the time. To my surprise, the same exact 1821 appeared on eBay about 10 months later! I didn’t want to let it get away from me twice, so I bought it and now it’s reunited with the 1820. Graded G6 by NGC. Images are mine.

    1821 25c.PNG


    Browning-1, R.2, Mintage: 64,080. This one was the last coin I needed to complete the set. Out of the dates I have, 1822 is definitely the most difficult to come by. For some odd reason, you can find several coins in AG or lower, VG or higher, and G details (e.g.-not straight graded), but you just cannot find them in Good without any impairments. I almost purchased a PCGS G4 in June, but I dragged my feet too long and someone bought it right before I made up my mind to get it. Fortunately it did not take too long for another Good example to appear, and I ended up getting this PCGS G6 for less than what I would have gotten the G4 for had I purchased it in June. Image is from GreatCollections.

    1822 25c.PNG


    Browning-3, R.3, Mintage: 168,000. In many price guides, 1825 quarters are often listed as three different overdates: 1825/2, 1825/3, and 1825/4. According to Tompkins’ book, however, all three are actually 1825/4/2 (and the so called 1825/3 and 1825/4 even share the same obverse die). There are some significant cuds seen on this date, with a cud developing at the arrows on Browning-2 and a cud developing at the word “United” on Browning-3. Both of these are fairly pricy, but I may get one someday. In the meantime I have this pleasing dark gray example, graded G4 by NGC. Images are mine.

    1825over4over2 25c.PNG


    Browning-4, R.3, Mintage: 106,000. This one was a pain in the behind to locate in my target grade range. I suspect this is the case because most bust quarters probably stopped circulating once the weight of silver coinage was reduced in 1853. Most 1828 quarters probably didn’t get a chance to wear down to the Good to Good+ range. That’s just my theory though. Anyway, after months of waiting, this coin came along with everything going for it: a fair price, an eye appealing appearance, and a scarce variety. Graded G6 by PCGS. Images are from J. Robinson Rare Coin.

    1828 25c.PNG
    Gilbert, Seated J, alurid and 20 others like this.
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  3. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Additional Information about Large Capped Bust Quarters

    In this post I’ll include any addition information about the series that I think would be beneficial to know. This will pertain less to my coins and more to the series as a whole.

    As a series, capped bust quarters are not very common; the large diameter subseries is particularly uncommon. In Early United States Quarters by Steve Tompkins, the author estimates between 3% and 5% of large capped bust quarters still exist. Obviously this is no hard and fast rule, but considering there were 1,278,584 ever minted, it stands to reason that few still exist. To put this into perspective, only three years of capped bust half dollars between 1815 and 1828 have mintages lower than 1,278,584 (1815, 1817, and 1820). For the sake of argument, if you assume a 4% survival rate, it would amount to about 50,000 large capped bust quarters. PCGS has certified 1881-S Morgan dollars in MS65 nearly 54,000 times by comparison (obviously some of these are resubmissions, but the point still stands, these are not particularly common coins).

    Many of these met their fate in the 1850s as silver prices rose to the point where the silver in the quarters was worth more than 25 cents. This resulted in many coins being melted and forever lost to history. Minor silver coins were legally reduced in weight in 1853, and many old coins were melted down and struck in the new standard weight.

    If you are interested in the series, I highly recommend Early United States Quarters, 1796-1838 by Steve Tompkins. The book is beautifully illustrated, contains mountains of information about each die marriage and die state, and has plenty of background information about the early U.S. Mint. It contains long chapters about the 1823/2 and 1827/3/2 quarters, and while I’ll almost certainly never own one, it’s very interesting to learn about the history of these classic American rarities. One interesting fact I learned from the book is that in one sale in the 1800s, an 1823/2 was sold in a bulk lot along with a 1796 and an 1804! Little things like that are what puts this book over the top. Here is a link to Tompkins’ book: http://www.earlyunitedstatescoins.c...uarters_1796-1838_-_by_Steve_M._Tompkins.html

    There is another bust quarter book that is highly recommended as well, Early Quarter Dollars of the United States Mint 1796-1838, but I have not gotten around to buying a copy of it. If I do get a copy, I will definitely update this thread.

    If you do not want to get a copy of one of the books, you can use NGC’s website to see images of the different die marriages. They do not provide a written description of the diagnostics, so you will have to compare all of the images to your coin and pick out what’s different between them until you find one that matches. This can be tedious, but I managed to do this before I got the Tompkins book. Here is the link: https://www.ngccoin.com/coin-variet...raped-bust-and-capped-bust-quarters-vscid-10/

    There’s no perfect online location for the rarity ratings, but if you go to the old CoinFacts website you can find rarity ratings that are pretty decent. Obviously the ratings are old, but for the most part they are the same (or close) to what the Tompkins book list, and they’re better than nothing. Here is that link: http://coinfacts.com/quarter_dollars/capped_bust_quarters/capped_bust_quarter_dollars.html

    Below are random “fun facts” about the series that I couldn’t put anywhere else but thought they may pique your interest.

    · The die marriages are named for Ard W. Browning, the author of Early Quarter Dollars of the United States 1796–1838, published in 1925.

    · An order from the Planters Bank in New Orleans in 1815 spurred the minting of quarters for the first time since 1807. Tompkins asserts that without this order, the quarter dollar denomination could have slowly drifted away, never to be made again.

    · A batch of 1815 quarters were delivered the day before a fire destroyed the rolling mill that the mint used to prepare planchets for silver and gold coins. This is what no gold or silver coins were struck bearing the date 1816.

    · Some 1815 and 1825 quarters were counterstamped with either an “E” or an “L” above Liberty’s cap. There are many theories about these counterstamps, but they remain a mystery. Tompkins discusses these in his book.

    · There are no quarters dated 1816, 1817, or 1826. None were made in 1829 or 1830 either; in 1831 the diameter was reduced to 24.3 millimeters and production of small capped bust quarters began.

    · The 1820 small 0 quarters were actually minted in 1821, as evidenced by certain die cracks.

    · 1821 Browning-6 was the rarest die marriage of large capped bust quarters until this year. Somehow there is an MS65 example of this very rare variety that nobody noticed for the better part of 200 years. This baffles me. You can see the coin here: http://www.pcgscoinfacts.com/Coin/Detail/38968

    · As alluded to above, the 1821 B-6 was dethroned this year by the newly discovered 1822 B-3. This coin sports the same reverse as the 1823/2 with the broken arrowhead and broken arrow shaft. This reverse is very noticeable, so if it took 195 years to find an example, it must be extremely rare. After striking the 1823/2, the reverse die was re-engraved to fill in missing parts of the design. It was then used to strike quarters dated 1824, 1825, and 1828. Here is 1822 B-3 in all its glory: https://www.ngccoin.com/news/article/5991/1822-quarter-dollar-variety/ .

    · One day, an engraver preparing a quarter reverse die had a bad day and accidentally punched “50 C.” instead of “25 C.” The engraver repunched the die with the correct denomination. Fast forward a few years, and this die got used to make the 1822 25/50 quarters. Fast forward a few more years, and the same die got used again in 1828. The overdenomination is clearly visible, even on heavily worn examples. I am sad I do not own one, but probably not as sad as the engraver was when they kept bringing his blundered die into service.

    · The 1827/3/2 quarters were actually struck with the same obverse die as the 1823/2 quarters. Usually overdates are made from unused, unhardened dies, but this is an exception.

    That’s it from me. Thank you for reading and taking part in my excitement! Feel free to post questions, comments, and your own large capped bust quarters!
  4. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    My sincere congratulations for a very interesting and informative post! and for the very nice set of large size capped bust quarters you are putting together:).

    I definitely concur with you that if one considers all of the capped bust types - half dimes, dimes, quarters and half dollars - the large size quarters are the most
    difficult to find.
    I share your liking for these coins, and have tried to add a few to my collection over the years. Of the dates that I now have, the 1815 was for me the most difficult to find as a date (seems everyone wants one!), while the most expensive was the 1824. For some reason, I ended up with two examples of the 1822.
    I will probably never own one of the scarce 25/50 varieties, or one of the scarce die varieties of the other years, but who knows.

    These are the examples I have managed to find over the years:

    1815 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1815 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1820 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1820 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1822 B-1 VG-8 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1822 B-1 VG-8 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1822 F-12 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1822 F-12 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg
    alurid, Scott J, dwhiz and 9 others like this.
  5. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    And the last few:

    1824 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1824 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1825-4 Capped Bust Quarter - Obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1825-4 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg
    Scott J, dwhiz, Seattlite86 and 9 others like this.
  6. Eduard

    Eduard Supporter**

    and 1828 (B-1):
    1828 B-1 Capped Bust Quarter - obv - 1-ccfopt.jpg 1828 B-1 Capped Bust Quarter - Rev - 1-ccfopt.jpg
    Seated J, Scott J, dwhiz and 9 others like this.
  7. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & Eccentric Moderator

    Tough coins. I've only had one or two of the large sized ones. Had an 1815 PCGS VF25 once, as I recall. I really like the original grey toning on some that have been posted here. I never delved into the Browning varieties - die variety minutiae is not my cuppa tea, though I respect the knowledge of you specialists who do get into all that. I just had an example or two for a type set.
    Johndoe2000$, ColonialCoin4 and NSP like this.
  8. Youngcoin

    Youngcoin Everything Collector

    I love the bust specimens I've never seen one but their pretty!
    NSP likes this.
  9. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    @Eduard very nice quarters! Thank you for posting them.
    KevinS and Eduard like this.
  10. Johndoe2000$

    Johndoe2000$ Well-Known Member

    Very nice collection, and informative post.
    NSP likes this.
  11. ewomack

    ewomack 魚の下着

    That was all very interesting. I was wondering why Capped Bust quarters price so much above the considerably easier to obtain Capped Bust Halves (though the ease of acquisition was another clue). I have an 1830 XF 45 Half, not a great rarity by any means, but for the equivalent price I could likely only get a F or VF Capped Bust quarter. Since I'm looking for higher grade specimens, I've resigned myself to pursuing examples only from the post 1831 reduced size subseries. When you time travel back before the 1830s in the US, the coins tend to grow exponentially in price as I'm quickly finding out.
    NSP likes this.
  12. David Setree Rare Coins

    David Setree Rare Coins Well-Known Member

    I have owned an 1815 E and an 1825 L for many years.
  13. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    Informative post NSP. Impressive collection and examples. Thank you @NSP & @Eduard for sharing. I am a bit ashamed to say that this is my only large capped early quarter. If only it could talk.

    image.jpeg image.jpeg
  14. NLL

    NLL Well-Known Member

    What is the cheapest example you were able to find @NSP ? Also congrats on completing the set!
    NSP likes this.
  15. ldhair

    ldhair Clean Supporter

    I don't own one but this thread makes me want to.
    dwhiz and NSP like this.
  16. micbraun

    micbraun coindiccted

    Yes, maybe one for a type set...but an entire year set is way too expensive. I'd rather continue my Bust half set :)
    NSP likes this.
  17. NSP

    NSP Well-Known Member

    Out of the ones I posted, the 1819 was the cheapest. That said, all of these cost me $100±$30 except for the 1822. Since few people collect these other than as a type coin, they are priced pretty evenly, even for the lower mintage years (though the lower mintage coins will appear less frequently). On average, the 1818 should cost a little less than the others, since it has the highest mintage by far.
  18. KSorbo

    KSorbo Well-Known Member

    Definitely high on my list for a type coin. With all the talk about declining prices, I'm convinced that this type of material is more likely to hold its own. It really is a lot of coin for the money. For me the pleasure of coin collecting is owning something that is genuinely scarce, and this series is a great example of that. I recently landed a straight graded draped bust quarter that is a highlight of my collection so now I need to continue with quarter types.
    NSP likes this.
  19. NLL

    NLL Well-Known Member

    Find any cheap Bust halves?
  20. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    The capped bust halves were made in larger numbers, and a great many of them were used as capital reserves by banks which resulted in a much higher survival rate, and in general a much higher grade for those survivers. The quarters went into circulation and were heavily used resulting in a low survival rate.

    During the period when the capped bust coins were being made, the only source of silver for the mint was from depositors, and the depositor chose what coins they wanted their coins made into. A smaller depositor might request half dimes, dimes or quarters. Banks and other large depositors typically asked for halves simply because they were larger and easier to count and then store. The Mint also would often try to convince depositors to take the large coins because they were just easier to make. When you are striking coins using a screw press it takes five times as much time and effort to make a dollars worth of dimes as it does to make a dollars worth of halves. (and therefore five times the cost)
  21. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Tell your dog I said hi!

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