1831 25C Small Letters XF45 Certification #14826724, PCGS #5348
Mislabeled as a Small Letters. Actually a Large Letters B-5, R-3 [Rea: R-2]
In 1831, four obverses and five reverses were combined for seven Capped Bust Quarter die pairs. These seven are generally grouped according to the size of the letters in the reverse legend, with Browning 1 through 4 known as “Small Letters”, and Browning 5 through 7 known as “Large Letters”. However, there is much more to the story than suggested by this simple and traditional Small vs. Large classification.
1831 is the first year of issue for the Capped Bust, “Small Size” Quarter type. And after a two year break, it appears that the resumption of the quarter denomination had a little trouble getting back to speed. Not only do we see the “Small” and “Large” letter sets, but a variety of number punches, including four different styles of “2” among the five reverses. Browning 1 shows a small, curl based 2, B-2 a small, flat based 2, B-3 and B-4 a “medium” sized square base 2, and B-5 through B-7 a large, curled base 2 that saw continued use through 1838.
With the exception of Browning 3, 1831 “Small Letters” Quarters are regularly available in upper Mint State grades. However, 1831 “Large Letters” Quarters are notably scarcer as a group, with Mint State examples likely to be B-5, and no surviving examples of B-7 known above the circulated grades.
Gordon WrubelQuickfinder Notes: 1831 was the year of transition to the new close collar reduced diameter (24mm versus 28mm) quarter coinage. In order to get the best striking results from his design, William Kneass tried two different letter sizes for the reverse die. The Small Letter reverse can be distinguished not only by their smaller size, as they are about as WIDE as they are TALL. The letters are also noticeably FARTHER AWAY from the rim than the Large Letter variety. The Large Letters appear to be TALLER than they are WIDE and are placed CLOSER to the rim. In total population, the Small Letter variety is about five times more common than the Large Letter variety. The Mint State population difference is even more striking with about eight times as many examples graded than the Large Letter variety.
89.2% Silver, 10.8% Copper
The United States of America