Estimated grade. Ex. Cogan (1882) Sold by Bowers & Ruddy Mar '80 Price realized $47500
David Akers (1975/88): A number of years ago this variety was thought to have a much lower mintage than is now generally accepted as correct. As a matter of fact, in early editions of the Red Book, the mintage was stated as being only 66 pieces. The 432 mintage figure now listed in the standard references is much more reasonable in the light of the number of known specimens as well as the number of appearances that this variety has made at auction. As is evident from its significantly lower number of auction appearances, the 1796 With Stars is substantially more rare than the 1796 No Stars, and I would estimate that no more than 20 to 25 pieces are in existence.
As Walter Breen points out in his monograph on quarter eagles, a careful study of the dies clearly indicates that this variety was not created by merely adding stars to the obverse of the 1796 No Stars quarter eagle. The letters in the word LIBERTY are spaced differently and the star configuration above the eagle is also different. It should be noted that the number and arrangement of stars on the obverse is different than on any other quarter eagle of this type. There are 16 stars and they are arranged 8 to the left of the head and 8 to the right. (Subsequent years have only 13 stars arranged in three different combinations, 7x6, 8x5, and 6x7.)
David Hall: The 1796 $2.5 with stars on the obverse is an extremely rare coin. Only 427 were originally minted and probably less than 50 exist today in all grades. The finest known example grades in the MS64/65 range.
Byron Reed Collection - Durham Western Heritage Museum - Christie's & Spink America 10/1996:41 - Heritage 1/2007:3382, $862,500 - Madison Collection - Heritage 1/2008:3059, $1,006,250 - Simpson Collection
Purchased privately by John Whitney Walter in 3/1995 - John Whitney Walter Collection - Stack's 5/1999:1790, $115,000 - Bowers & Merena 11/2002:3063 - Bowers & Merena 3/2004:2512, not sold - Goldbergs 9/2010:2758, not sold - Offered by MikeByers.com for $500,000 at the 2/2012 Long Beach Show - Heritage 8/2012:5282, $329,000
National Numismatic Collection at the Smithsonian Institution
George H. Earle Collection - Henry Chapman 6/1912:2496 - Col. E.H.R. Green Collection - Dr. J. Hewitt Judd Collection - Stack’s “Winter Collection” 2/1974:495 - Dr. Herbert Ketterman Collection, sold privately in the late 1970s - Jimmy Hayes Collection - Stack’s “Auction ‘84” 7/1984:1365, $74,250 - David Akers “Auction ‘89” 7/1989:1356, $176,000 - D. Brent Pogue Collection - Stack’s/Bowers & Sotheby’s 5/2015:1117, $440,625
John Whitney Walter Collection, purchased privately 4/1995 - Stack's 5/1999:1791, $115,000 - Sun Valley Collection - Bowers & Merena 8/2009:4310, $163,875 - Stack's/Bowers 8/2011:7593, $287,500