Liberty Head Quarter Eagles: Facts for Buyers and Sellers of $2.50 Gold Coins
Liberty Head $2.50 gold quarter eagle coins offer an exciting opportunity for collectors. One of the reasons is that the supply of these pre-1933 coins is finite. Anything but heavily worn or damaged coins will tend to sell at a premium over the price of their precious metal. However, if you want to sell or buy these Liberty Head quarter eagles, you need to know what they are, what they look like, and which examples are the most valuable.
History of $2.50 Liberty Head Gold Coins
In 1834, the Mint sought to acquire a new design for American gold coins. That year, William Kneass adapted the Classic Liberty Head design from earlier coins and used it for the $2.50 Classic head coins. However, the Mint desired a new symbol of Liberty. By 1838, Christian Gobrecht had created a design they would use for the next 67 years – the Liberty Head coronet design.
In 1933, when President Roosevelt signed an order to end private gold ownership, many of these coins were turned in to the government and melted. However, because collectors were allowed to hold some gold, some of the Liberty Head quarter eagles survived. While Roosevelt ended private gold ownership, take a look at the US Presidents that did support a gold coin standard.
Liberty Head Design
Liberty Head quarter eagles bear a large head of Liberty facing left. Liberty wears a wide coronet marked with the word “Liberty.” With her hair pulled back in a bun and adorned with pearls, Liberty has an elegant look. Around the head are 13 stars for the original colonies, and the date is stamped below.
On the reverse, you can find the same heraldic eagle design created by John Reich and likely adapted by Robert Hall Hughes. The eagle spreads its wings, holding a Union shield in front. In its right claw is an olive branch, and in its left, three arrows. Inscriptions on the reverse include “United States of America” and the denomination of “2 ½ D.”
Specs for $2.50 Liberty Head Gold Coins
Denomination: $2.50 Liberty Head gold coins, aka Liberty Head quarter eagle
Weight: 4.18 grams
Gold content: 0.1209 troy ounces
Purity: .90 fine gold
Mints: Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, New Orleans, San Francisco
Total Mintage: 11,921,171
Recognizing the variety of coins you have can help you get or pay the right price for your specific coins. However, varieties of the $2.50 Liberty Head gold coins are often very hard to distinguish from each other. Here are a few of the varieties you might notice when buying or selling Liberty Head quarter eagles.
The 1856-O Liberty head quarter eagles have two die varieties. On one, the date is placed just to the left of the slanting 5 in the date, which is small. On this specimen, no part of the O mintmark is touched by the feather. This first variety is the rarest. However, on the more common second variety, the mintmark is above the gap between the value and the denominator, and a feather covers its top portion.
In 1861, the Liberty Head quarter eagles were produced at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints. The reverse of most of the coins minted in Philadelphia featured reduced-sized lettering. However, some of those coins were struck with the previous reverse design, which had large lettering.
The 1848 Liberty Head quarter eagles marked with “CAL” were actually the U.S. Mint’s first commemorative coins. These coins were labeled with CAL to recognize the beginning of the Gold Rush in California. Only 1389 1848 CAL coins were ever minted, and are valued at over $10,000, even in circulated condition.
The Liberty Head quarter eagles were not officially recorded as having been minted in 1841 at all. However, about 12-15 of these $2.50 Liberty Head gold coins likely exist. They were most likely minted as proofs for the purpose of being included in sets. If you can find one of these in Extremely Fine condition, it would be worth closed to six figures, and if in Uncirculated MS-60 condition, possibly upwards of $200,000!
The 1854-S Liberty Head quarter eagle is among the rarest U.S. regular strike coins, with a mintage of only 346 coins. It appears that these coins were being used rather than collected early on because almost all of the known specimens are in no better than Very Fine condition now. The Harry Bass collection had one of these coins in AU50, but other than that, there are none known higher than Very Fine. This highly collectible coin in Very Fine condition will bring well into the six figures.
Charlotte & Dahlonega $2.50 Liberty Heads
No discussion of $2.50 Liberty Head gold coins would be complete without addressing the approximate eleven year run of coins produced by the Dahlonega and Charlotte Mints from the late 1840’s to late 1850’s.
The first of these coins were produced in 1848. Mintages of the Charlotte and Dahlonega gold coins that year were 16,788 and 13,771, respectively. The inaugural year saw more of these coins produced than just about any other year.
The lowest minted Charlotte-issued $2.50 Liberty Head was produced in 1855 with a mintage of only 3,677 coins. Circulated condition coins from this year typically begin in the $2,000 range. In contrast, the lowest minted Dahlonega gold coin was produced in 1856 with a mintage of a mere 874 coins. Circulated condition examples of this coin typically begin in the $5,000 range.
The last Dahlonega issued coin was in 1859 and the last Charlotte issued coin was in 1860. For those interested in learning more about these short-lived mints, we welcome you to visit our previous piece on U.S. Mints that are no longer in operation.
Tips for Buying and Selling Liberty Head Quarter-Eagles
Because there is such a wide variance between the lowest-valued and highest-valued $2.50 Liberty Head quarter eagles, it makes sense to have your coin professionally authenticated and graded. You will want to know exactly the coin and variety you’re dealing with and have an expert opinion of its value.
Talking to a coin dealer may be the best first step. They can provide you with insight as to the rarity, condition, and an approximate value on your coin. In some cases, they may offer to purchase it from you if you are selling gold coins. On the other hand, if you are planning to buy such a coin, they can either sell it to you, help you locate it through their network, or offer appraisal services if you want to buy from someone else.
Where to Find an Expert on Pre-1933 Gold Coins
If you are looking for an expert who can help you determine the buying or selling price of a pre-1933 gold coin, consider coming to Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers. We have extensive knowledge of these precious metals coins and much experience in recognizing the varieties.
Our team of experts can ensure that you know what your coin is and what it’s worth. We can help you make the best deal possible or find the missing coin to add to your collection. Talk with us today to learn what to do next in your quest to buy or sell $2.50 Liberty Head gold coins.