Estimated grade. Sold by David Akers Numismatics May '98 Price realized $8800
David Akers (1975/88): This date has both the lowest mintage and the fewest number of auction appearances of any date of this type. Stricly uncirculated specimens are extremely rare, and the finest I can recall seeing was a gem example that was part of a collection of Charlotte gold coins that I saw at the 1974 ANA Convention in Miami. The head on the 1838-C is different than it is on the 1838, but it is identical to the head that later appears on the 1839/8-D. The C mintmark is located on the obverse above the date. It is punched too low and then corrected so that both impressions are still clearly visible.Doug Winter: The 1838-C quarter eagle is an extremely popular coin for a number of reasons. It is a first-year-of issue and it is one of just two Charlotte quarter eagles that use the Classic Head, Obverse Mintmark design. Because of this level of popularity (and the resulting strong demand) it is actually somewhat overvalued in comparison to other Charlotte quarter eagles.
Despite being somewhat overvalued, the 1838-C is still as scarce a coin as the low mintage suggests. Usually seen in VF and EF grades, it becomes very scarce in properly graded AU55 to AU58 and rare in Uncirculated, although examples saved as the first-year-of issue novelties make it more available than on might think. Many of the best known 1838-C quarter eagles came onto the market in the early 1900s, indicating that a small hoard may have been discreetly sold during that time.
STRIKE: The quality of the strike seen on the 1838-C is not as sharp as that found on the 1839-C. It is, however, considerably sharper than the half eagle which Charlotte produced in 1838. The obverse is always better detailed than the reverse. Many pieces, in fact, appear to be a full grade sharper on the obverse than on the reverse. The curls above the ear are weak while the rest of the hair shows good detail. The stars are nearly always blunt and most do not show any of their radial lines. The denticles are very sharp and long on the obverse. The reverse shows weakness of strike at the juncture of the shield and the eagle’s right wing. The left wing of the eagle is always weaker at its top than on the lower part. The leg and the claws are sharp and the neck feathers are usually mostly visible. The denticles are weaker at the top of the reverse than at the bottom.
SURFACES: Nearly all 1838-C Quarter eagles have very scuffy surfaces. The fields often show numerous digs and scratches. A number were struck on rough planchets. This roughness, which is mint-made, can be seen in the obverse fields and, more extensively, at and above the head of the eagle. I have seen a few 1838-C quarter eagles that exhibited small, mint-made defects in the fields as well.
LUSTER: The 1838-C typically has frosty luster with a slightly grainy texture. The quality of luster is better than one would expect from an issue which represented the very first quarter eagles produced at the Charlotte Mint.
COLORATION: Uncleaned pieces have very attractive color which is most often a deep green-gold or orange-gold hue. It is very difficult to locate pieces with original color as most have been cleaned or dipped at one time.
EYE APPEAL: There are some very attractive examples in existence although these are getting harder to locate because many higher grade 1838-C quarter eagles have been dipped, cleaned or processed in an attempt to garner a higher grade... Enough relatively choice pieces exist to suggest that at least some were saved as souvenirs. The typical piece has just average eye appeal due to an irregular strike, heavily abraded surfaces and a lack of originality.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: On the obverse, the first, fifth, ninth, and tenth stars show doubling. There is an area of raised die rust above the denticles just past the second 8 in the date.
DIE VARIETIES: There is just a single variety known.
Variety 1 (formerly 1-A): The date is unevenly spaced with the 1 higher than the first 8 and the 3 higher than either of the 8s. The mintmark is small and is located just over the left of the center of the 3. All known examples show strong repunching on the mintmark which was first placed too low. The reverse was used in 1838 and again in 1839. The tip of the olive branch extends to the center of the upright of the D in UNITED. The word OF is level at its base. The lowest arrowhead is close to the right serif of the final A in AMERICA. The 1 in the fraction is very close to the bar. A die crack runs from the denticles over the left wing into the field above the wing.
Late die states are known which show varying cracks on the reverse. These become very bold. One of the cracks begins at the rim at 10:00 and runs into the eagle's right wing. A second can be seen from the beak to the left point of the shield. In its terminal state, this crack extends down through the feathers to the left edge of the 2 and then into the denticles.
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