Times of Change for the Quarter Eagle

The quarter eagle represented the smallest gold denomination originally authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792. The denomination was first produced in 1796 with the distinctive Turban Head design. Fewer than 20,000 pieces were struck over the next ten years bearing this original design.

A new design featuring a version of Liberty with a capped bust appeared in 1808. After a small mintage of these pieces, there was a lengthy gap in production which would last until 1821. The same basic design was used, although some features were changed such as reducing the size of Liberty’s head on the obverse. Further change would come in 1829 when the standard diameter of the coins was reduced due to a change in technology at the early mint.

All told, there had been five different types or subtypes for the denomination across production of fewer than 100,000 pieces. These early years contain numerous rarities, some with original mintages of few than 1,000 pieces. While this area of collecting may be secluded to only deep pocketed individuals, the early changes within the denomination make for an interesting study.

Later series within the denomination experienced higher mintages as circulation of the coins became more commonplace. It is within the subsequent Classic Head and Liberty Head types that most collectors will find fertile ground for assembling a collection.

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