Estimated grade. Sold by B. Max Mehl Jun '41 price realized $5
Doug Winter: The 1839-C is by far the more common of the two Classic Head quarter eagles struck at the Charlotte Mint. It is also one of the more available issues from this mint, in terms of overall rarity. In high grade, however, it is scarce and underrated. In fact, it is a rarer coin in Uncirculated than the more heralded 1838-C quarter eagle.
The 1839-C quarter eagle is one of the most common Charlotte gold coins. It is comparatively plentiful in VF and EF grades. It becomes moderately scarce in the lower AU grades and it is scarce in the higher AU grades. It us extremely rare and very underrated in full Mint State and is actually rarer in Uncirculated than the 1838-C.
There are two major varieties known: the overdate and the recut date. Traditionally, they were not generally collected as separate issues but this has changed in the past few years. Since they have very different characteristics, both will be described in detail.
STRIKE: 1839/8-C Overdate: On the overdate, the center of the obverse is sharp with the exception of the curls above the ear of Liberty. The curl to the left of the ear is often very weak. The stars are mostly flat at the centers although a few may show detail on the radial lines. On the reverse, the right outline of the shield is always weak as are the wing tips. All of the other details are quite sharp but as the dies crack and break up (as seen on later die states) they begin to fade.
1839-C Recut Date: The obverse is not as well struck as on the overdate. The curls near the eye and ear of Liberty are quite weak but the rest of the hair detail is strong. The stars are usually very flat, whereas the denticles are long and very sharp. The reverse is sharper than that seen on the overdate. It has very good detail on the wings and the outline of the shield does not show significant weakness. On the obverse, clashmarks from the reverse can be seen below the lowest curl on the right. The reverse has clashmarks along the outside of the left wing.
SURFACES: 1839-C Variety 3: There is a large mint-made defect on the cheek of Liberty which is probably the result of a foreign deposit adhering to the die during the striking process. A smaller defect is also visible to the right of Liberty’s eye. On more than one occasion, these defects have been mistaken for post-striking damage by collectors and by auctions catalogers. The surfaces are usually abraded but tend to be cleaner than on the Recut Date variety.
1839-C Recut Date: The surfaces on nearly all known examples are very extensively abraded and show deep, detracting marks from circulation. Some show mint-made striations in the field and others are hairlined from having been cleaned at one time. This is an extremely hard variety to find with choice surfaces.
LUSTER: Both varieties tend to show frosty luster with a slight degree of graininess. Most 1839-C quarter eagles, no matter which variety they are, tend to have impaired luster. I have seen a number of pieces that have been cleaned and many which have been recolored.
COLORATION: On the overdate variety, the original color is usually orange-gold or deep coppery-gold. On the recut date, the coloration is a lighter hue with yellow-gold or greenish shades. Both varieties are extremely hard to locate with original color.
EYE APPEAL: Both varieties are very hard to locate with good eye appeal. This is due to the fact that a number show extensive die breaks which make the surfaces appear somewhat irregular. In addition, many have been cleaned or dipped. The majority of 1839-C quarter eagles graded AU50 and higher by both services are overgraded, in some cases by a considerable margin.
DIE CHARACTERISTICS: On the 1839/8-C, stars six, eight and eleven are noticeably repunched. On the reverse there is doubling on the letters in UNITED and raised die lines through this word. On the 1839-C Recut Date there is a small raised dot between the second and third horizontal stripes in the shield.
DIE VARIETIES: A total of three die varieties are known.
Variety 1 (formerly Variety 2-A): 1839/8-C Overdate: This variety has the same head and stars as on the 1838-C. The mintmark is small and centered between the bust and the top of the 3 in the date. It is positioned over the left side of the 39 and the space to the left. The reverse is the same as on the 1838-C and it shows extensive cracks. This is the most common of the three varieties.
It is estimated that at least 50% of all 1839-C quarter eagles are Variety 1.
Variety 2 (formerly Variety 3-B): Recut date. On this obverse, the 3 in the date was first cut too low and then corrected. The mintmark is further to the left than on the other obverse of this year with the C over the 83. The reverse was used only in 1839. The tip of the branch extends to the right edge of the upright of the D. The F in OF is high and it is positioned above the O at the top. The first S in STATES is doubled at the top. The lowest arrowhead is joined to the inside of the right serif of the final A in AMERICA.
It is believed that this variety had an original mintage figure of 4,860 pieces. It is the rarest of the three varieties and it is estimated that less than 20% of all known 1839-C quarter eagles are Variety 2.
A late die state exists on which a crack develops from the neck of the eagle through the field to the right wing then through the wing to the tip and finally into the denticles.
Variety 3 (formerly Variety 3-C). Obverse as last. The reverse was used only in 1839. The tip of the branch extends only to the upper left tip of the D. The lowest arrowhead extends to the gap between the serifs on the final A in AMERICA. The 1 in the fraction is far from the bar. There is no berry to the stem and all of the leaves show broken stems.
Approximately 30-35% of all known 1839-C quarter eagles are Variety 3.
Late die states show cracks on the reverse from the denticles through the upright of the E in STATES and into the field above the eagle’s head.
Viewed as distinct varieties, the Recut Date is scarcer than the Overdate.David Akers (1975/88): There are two main varieties of the 1839-C quarter eagle. One is the overdate (1839/8-C) and the other has a markedly recut 39 in the date. In my experience, the two varieties are of approximate equal rarity. Surprisingly enough, there are some choice examples of this date around, and I have actually seen more choice 1839-C quarter eagles that I have of the 1839.
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