1871-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. Briggs 1-A, the only known dies. MS-65 (PCGS). CAC. Secure Holder.
Jeff Ambio: All known 1871-CC Liberty Seated quarters are of a Repunched Date variety with repunching evident on both the first and final digits in the date. Additional diagnostics of this obverse are two tiny die rust lumps in the drapery of Liberty's gown to the right of the letter Y in LIBERTY. The reverse die is the same used at the Carson City Mint to strike all known 1870-CC, 1872-CC and 1873-CC Arrows quarters.
A monumental numismatic rarity as a Gem Mint State 1871-CC quarter, and a delightful coin to behold; both sides are beautifully toned with a base of soft pearl gray iridescence. Shades of more vivid violet, olive, blue-gray and reddish-russet patina are also scattered about, mostly around the peripheries, and they form an artistic masterpiece in a Liberty Seated quarter. The obverse exhibits a vibrant semi-prooflike finish that is best appreciated when the coin is held at direct angles to a strong light. The reverse, no less vibrant, exhibits a more uniform frosty texture. Equally sharp in strike, both sides are also exceptionally well preserved without so much as a single distracting abrasion. A simply gorgeous piece that is certainly among the leading highlights in the phenomenal Battle Born Collection.
There are only three Mint State 1871-CC Liberty Seated quarters known:
1 - PCGS MS-65. Ex: our (Stack's) Giacomo Pezzo Sale, August 1941, lot 1865; our (Stack's) sale of the James A. Stack Collection of U.S. Quarters and Half Dollars, March 1975, lot 130; and our (Stack's) sale of the Reed Hawn Collection of United States Quarters, March 1977, lot 365; various intermediaries; the Battle Born Collection. The present example.
2 - NGC MS-65. Ex: F.C.C. Boyd; Numismatic Gallery's "World's Greatest Collection" sale (Boyd), March 1945; Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr.; and our (Bowers and Merena's) sale of the Louis E. Eliasberg, Sr. Collection, April 1997, lot 1497.
3 - PCGS MS-64. Ex: Ambassador and Mrs. R. Henry Norweb; our (Bowers and Merena's) sale of the Norweb Collection, Part II, March 1988, lot 1640; William Greene; Superior's sale of the William Greene Collection, February 1998, lot 2033; Heritage's sale of the Nevada Collection, August 1999, lot 6279; and our (American Numismatic Rarities') Kennywood Collection sale, January 2005, lot 443.
The Stack-Battle Born specimen, offered here, and the Eliasberg specimen are a cut above the already spectacular Norweb coin, and designating one of the two MS-65s as the "finest known" 1871-CC Liberty Seated quarter is a very difficult, if not impossible task. All three coins, of course, are landmark rarities that stand head and shoulders above all other survivors of this highly elusive and extremely challenging Carson City Mint issue.
Rusty Goe: The Carson City Mint struck 10,890 quarters dated 1871 that would decades later be targeted by collectors as key rarities. The coiner, who had not struck examples of this denomination since August 1870, delivered the first 3,490 of them for 1871 on February 2. Coiner Granville Hosmer minted another 2,400 quarters in August, and added the final 5,000 pieces at the end of September.
Hosmer's boss, Superintendent Henry F. Rice, who had replaced Abraham Curry in September 1870, wrote in his report to Mint Director James Pollock that business had increased at the Carson Mint because the U.S. government had authorized a bullion fund for it. As ore output had consistently escalated in northwestern Nevada, miners were enticed to bring it to their local mint if they could get paid for a portion of their deposit on the spot. Director Pollock wrote in his annual report for 1871 that the bullion fund and the granting of "full authority ... to melt, assay, and stamp gold and silver bullion, and return the same to depositors in unparted bars, bearing the Government stamp of weight and fineness," had "largely increased [the Carson Mint's] business and added to its usefulness."
Even with the spike in bullion deliveries in its second year in operation, the Carson Mint saw limited coinage output. It returned unparted bars for bullion deposited at a ratio of over four to one over its yield of coins. Still, its aggregate mintage of 214,958 pieces, divided between seven denominations, more than doubled the production of 1870.
While all coins dated 1871-CC are scarce today (2012), the quarters from that year deserve special recognition. Of the paltry population that survives, fewer than 18 or so pieces qualify for condition ratings above Fine.
Even in the ranks of such rarity, three specimens (Stack, Eliasberg, and Norweb) rise to the top of the condition census and leave collectors speechless.
Forever linked to eminent collector James A. Stack, the Gem quality Battle Born 1871-CC quarter can be traced to Stack's of New York's August 1941 sale of Giacomo Opezzo's holdings. Prior to that, its provenance is uncertain. Some researchers have speculated that early quarter specialist Ard W. Browning might have owned it at one time.
This specimen. that some have claimed is the finest known 1871-CC quarter, gained fame when Stack's of New York sold it in its March 1975 James A. Stack sale. Two years later, Stack's sold it a third time in its March 1977 Reed Hawn sale. Dealer Fred Sweeney from Kansas owned it briefly, and then Pennsylvania dealer Mulford B. Simons Jr. bought it in the late 1970s.
It had passed through a number of hands over a three-decade period by the time I bought it in late 2001. I placed it in the Battle Born collection in March 2002.
Q. David Bowers: The 1871-CC quarter follows suit with the 1870-CC in many regards. The mintage was low -- just 10,890 for this year -- and relatively few survive today. Rusty Goe places the number at 35 to 50, with perhaps just three or four known at the Mint State level. There was little demand for coins of such a small denomination. In addition, the San Francisco Mint produced quarter dollars in this era, also in rather reduced quantities (but far more than in Carson City). As is true of other Carson City silver, there was no numismatic interest in the 1871-CC quarters and the survival of high grade examples was a matter of rare chance. Today, a nice VF or EF 1871-CC quarter is about top of the line in reality for an advanced collector. The Battle Born coin, graded MS-65 by PCGS, is a marvelous exception and will no doubt attract a lot of attention when it crosses the block.
Larry Briggs notes that this variety is rarely seen above Very Good, with most pieces being Good or lower. That tells it all -- a nice coin in say, Fine preservation, is a joy to own, and anything higher, including as offered here, is a numismatic treasure.
Population in Battle Born Grade
Population in Higher Grade
Population in All Grades
* As of July 2012
† PCGS shows only 23 submission events in its columnar listings; some of the discrepancy between the aggregate and columnar totals probably results from PCGS not showing coins graded below VG.
‡ NGC shows only 11 submission events in its columnar totals.
Pedigree: From the Battle Born Collection. Earlier from our (Stack's) Giacomo Opezzo Sale, August 1941, lot 1865; our (Stack's) sale of the James A. Stack Collection of U.S. Quarters and Half Dollars, March 1975, lot 130; and our (Stack's) sale of the Reed Hawn Collection of United States Quarters, March 1977, lot 365; Fred Sweeney; Mulford B. Simons, Jr.; Ron Iskowitz; Steve Innarelli; Rusty Goe. The plate coin for the issue on the PCGS Coin Facts website.