Brightly lustrous yellow gold with some prooflike reflectivity and a hint of olive toning, a pleasing specimen that is undeniably choice for the grade. One of just 963 pieces struck in the first year of the denomination; stars were added to the design later in 1796, thus creating a new type that was issued intermittently, 1796 through 1807. Choice for the grade with the broad expanse of the obverse field unsullied by eye-catching marks, the reverse just as pleasing to the eye. Some central weakness is present on both sides, a normal occurrence for the issue, and some light, well-hidden vertical adjustment marks are noted in Miss Liberty's tresses. Interestingly, there is a natural planchet rift, as struck, running from the edge of Liberty's cap below the L in LIBERTY diagonally downward across the cap and head to Liberty's eye. As with every series of U.S. coins, great quarter eagle collections are measured by the presence--or absence--of rare key dates. Among early quarter eagles there are many rarities to be sure, but few hold the allure or capture the imagination the way the 1796 No Stars issue does. Its one-year-only type status adds to the burden of acquisition, as quarter eagle specialists and advanced type collectors alike are constantly on the lookout for a nice '96 No Stars. Herein lies the object of desire for many of today's numismatists, presented in a top-notch grade and great all-around physical condition. If you mean to have a 1796 No Stars quarter eagle, step right up and place your bid--and may it be successful.
Numismatic Reflections by Q. David Bowers
In the entire American coinage this is certainly a very special variety. There are other coins that are a one-year type, but not many are partial year types. The most familiar example is, of course, the 1909 V.D.B. cent, plus other issues from the 20th century onward. Among earlier varieties, the 1796 quarter eagle is particularly distinctive, as before the year was out the design had been discontinued. It has long been my thought that when the coin was planned it was considered that stars were on the reverse of the motif so on the obverse there should not be any, otherwise there would be double stars. However, that idea, if true, proved to be ephemeral, creating the famous variety offered here.
NGC Census: 2; 10 finer (MS-65 finest).