Quarter from 1796

Few US coins are both rare and historic, but the 1796 quarter is both, making it a remarkable coin. The 1796 quarter was the first US quarter, so it's historic. It was not created until 1796, which may indicate how low creating quarters was in priority.

Coins, including a quarter, were allowed in 1792. No coins were manufactured until 1793, when only half cents and cents were made since silver and gold could not be produced without a bond. While the public waited for coinage, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had to resolve the bond issue because the officials concerned were reluctant or unable to post it.

Beginning silver and gold currency manufacture in 1794 was complicated by additional issues, and the first silver dollar attempts were unsuccessful. Fair enough, 1,758 dollars were created, but the common consensus is that they were the acceptable total out of 2,000 attempted. Half dollars followed dollars. This suggests they were working down in denominations, but the quarter wasn't next. Instead, in 1795, there were 1794-dated half dimes, the first gold coins, and more of various denominations. The quarter was delayed until 1796.

After all that waiting, the 1796 quarter should have a huge mintage. While 6,146 pieces may seem enormous, there is no reason to spin it. Given the nation's monetary scarcity, a substantial quarter mintage is expected the following year. No quarters were minted in 1797. Quarters were not produced again until 1804.

Nothing adequately describes the scenario. The early Mint didn't prioritize the quarter. The facility wasn't great, but it produced enough coins in 1797. It produced coins, but not quarters.

The situation suggests 1796 quarter grades being lower. Due to a national coin shortage, even quarters were in high demand. After creating slightly over 6,000 instances, the quarter was not produced again until 1804, which does not assist maintain examples in higher grades. Under the circumstances, upper circulating grade examples are unlikely.

In 1998, the 1796 quarter was priced for $4,350 in G-4, while an MS-60 was $28,000 and an MS-65 was $125,000. Today, a G-4 costs $12,000, an MS-60 $70,000, and an MS-65 $375,000. It's remarkable that the G-4 and MS-60 went below 1998 values before rising to their present pricing.

Naturally, check the grading services to discover how rare the 1796 is. PCGS graded 252 coins, 31 of which were MS-60. Three are MS-65, one is MS-66, and two are MS-67. At Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), 25 of 117 graded are MS-60 or above. NGC lists four MS-65, two MS-66, and one MS-67.

The totals seem to support the notion that someone saved at least a few quarter-dollars in 1796. That would explain the number in Mint State and the number in MS-65 or better, as the coins had to be well-struck and cared for for almost two centuries to avoid being handed on to small grandchildren or curious friends. They are gems of American numismatics, but any 1796 qualifies since it is rare and important in history.

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