Just about the time you convince yourself that the only worthwhile coins in numismatics grade 60 or higher on the 70-point scale, a story like this comes along.
Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has closely examined an About Good-3 quarter and made a discovery.
That’s right, an AG-3 quarter.
It is dated 1822.
It exhibits a previously unknown pairing of obverse and reverse die.
A coin worth $50 has become a discovery coin.
You don’t have to be a quarter specialist to appreciate this.
Most collectors have well worn pieces in their holdings.
I won’t write they are in their collections.
More often than not these worn pieces are simply thrown aside until that self-promised day arrives when we all tell ourselves we will have more time to take a careful look at them.
In this case, such a careful look has revealed something important.
NGC says the new discovery has been cataloged as Browning-3, adding a third variety to the two 1822 die marriages known.
It is not like Bust quarters haven’t been examined and re-examined.
NGC points out that the numbering system used to identify them originates with the 1925 book by Ard W. Browning.
Imagine missing something for almost 100 years – 200 years if we start counting from the year it was struck.
For the specialists, NGC describes what they have found this way:
“Variety B-1 of 1822 combined Obverse 1 and Reverse R (the reverse dies being lettered sequentially from 1815 onward).
"B-2 employed this same obverse in combination with Reverse S, which it shared with 1828 B-3.
"The coin recently confirmed by NGC as a new variety combines Obverse 1 for 1822 with Reverse T, a die used to coin the single varieties of 1823 and 1824 quarters, as well as 1825 B-1 and 1828 B-2.
"This marriage of Obverse 1 and Reverse T was previously unknown for 1822 quarters.
“Reverse T is easily identified by its broken upper arrow shaft and lower arrow head.
"This same die state is seen on the scarce 1823/2 quarters, but the die was subsequently repaired before use with the three later dates.
"These 1824/2, 1825 and 1828 quarters reveal an engraving scratch from the lower arrow head that attests to its repair.”
An Illinois collector sent photos to Heritage Auctions to get the discovery train moving.
The auction firm recommended contact with David Lange, NGC research director, which happened at a show.
This is more proof of how important coin shows are.
NGC further describes the coin as “worn in a pattern that suggests the dies were not perfectly aligned.
"Its obverse is more worn at the left, while its reverse shows greater wear at the right.
"The quarter is naturally toned, with lighter relief elements that give it a slight cameo quality, and a subtle planchet lamination is visible at 8 o’clock obverse."
Quite rightly, NGC points out that it will attribute all Browning varieties under its VarietyPlus Service for a fee of $15 above the grading tier fee.
It says coins already certified by NGC may be submitted to have an eligible variety attributed at this same $15 fee, which includes the cost of reholdering.
Learn more about VarietyPlus at NGCcoin.com/VarietyPlus.
This is a way to find out exactly what you may have.
Isn't that worth $15?
The Illinois collector now knows what he has.
What is to be done with his discovery coin he has yet to decide.
What a pleasant task to have.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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