Beginning in 1834, the Mint began a search for a suitable design that could serve as an enduring symbol on American gold coins. In that year Engraver William Kneass executed a head of Liberty for quarter eagles and half eagles that became known as the Classic design. But this design, although modified several times, was not to last, as it was adapted from John Reich’s old Classic Head motif first used on large cents in 1808 and officials continued to press for a symbol of Liberty more befitting the growing Republic. By 1838, Christian Gobrecht’s Coronet design for the eagle took center stage, and a version of this—in keeping with the Mint’s penchant for uniformity—was used on the quarter eagle starting in 1840.
The design as finally adopted featured a large head of Liberty facing left, wearing a wide coronet inscribed with the word LIBERTY. Her hair is pulled back in a bun and held in place by a string of pearls. Thirteen stars are placed around the periphery, representing the original colonies, with the date below. The eagle on the reverse was essentially the same one that had been on quarter eagles since 1808. Originally designed by John Reich, the 1840-1907 version was modified by Gobrecht. The heraldic eagle has its wings spread from rim to rim with the union shield covering its breast. An olive branch representing the country’s peaceful intentions is in the eagle’s right claw, with three arrows emphasizing military preparedness in the left. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA surrounds the eagle, with the denomination 2 1/2 D. beneath the bird.
Finest known for the date and very rare opportunity to acquire this ultra coin. We have only handled one in our company history.
Additional Rarity: An 1860 $2 1/2 PR65 Cameo sold at an auction on August 2, 2012 for $41,125.