1822 Capped Bust Quarter. Browning-2. Rarity-5. 25/50C Proof-65 (PCGS). CAC.
An amazing Proof 1822 quarter, this coin from the Browning-2 die marriage, using the famous (and rare) reverse die engraved with an erroneous 50 C. at its base, then corrected to the proper denomination of 25 C. It seems unlikely that a special presentation coin would be struck from a die with such an egregious error, but four individual Proof examples are recorded. The offered coin features springtime shades of pale green and blue, blended with light gold, all delicately overlaid upon surfaces that retain their silvery brilliance and vivid reflectivity. The mirrors are complete, though the reverse in particular also shows some lustrous cartwheel. The strike is up to the standards of the other Proofs in this series, with extremely sharp detail at centers, squared rims, and only minor peripheral softness. The top stars on either side of the obverse periphery are a bit soft, but still show some of their central detail. Struck just once, but fully, this example ideally displays the error that has given this variety its notoriety. A light planchet inclusion appears as a striation above 82 of the date, related to the shallow relic above the drapery clasp. A pinpoint spot on the bust is also visible in the Garrett plate, as is a small area of planchet unevenness below star 9. The aesthetic appeal, like that found on most early Proof quarters, is truly impressive.
In addition to this being one of just four known Proof coins from these dies, this example traces its provenance to the most important early figure in identification of the die marriages of the early quarter series. J. Colvin Randall was the nation's most notable expert on die varieties of all early United States silver coins in the last quarter of the 19th century. Though uncredited, Randall was the author and architect of the Type Table of United States Dollars, Half Dollars, and Quarter Dollars, published by John W. Haseltine as an auction catalog in 1881. It served as the principal guide to die varieties of early silver coins for decades, preceding denomination-specific works by Browning, Beistle, and Bolender. Randall was embittered by the experience, writing to W. Elliot Woodward several years later: "The idea of a correct work on types and varieties of United States silver dollars, halves and quarters, originated with me. H. and myself were to publish the work together, but without any consultation whatever with me, he issued for his own benefit what he styles the Type-Table Catalogue."
This is the most desirable format of this famous rarity in the early quarter series, a coin collected with pride by J. Colvin Randall and held in the legendary Garrett Collection for nearly a century. A circulated 1822 25/50 quarter would be something to brag about; indeed, the great Pittman Collection included a cleaned Very Fine. A Mint State coin, as in the next lot, would be an extraordinary offering. A Proof is off the charts of desirability, a coin of great charisma and interest, suited for the finest cabinet.
PCGS Population: 2, none finer. (Proof 25/50C only)
Ex J. Colvin Randall Collection; W. Elliot Woodward's sale of the Numismatic Cabinet of Mr. J. Colvin Randall of Philadelphia, June 1885, lot 570; T. Harrison Garrett Collection, via Harold P. Newlin; T. Harrison Garrett to Robert and John Work Garrett, by descent, 1888; Robert Garrett interest to John Work Garrett, 1919; transfer completed 1921; John Work Garrett to The Johns Hopkins University, by gift, 1942; Bowers and Ruddy's sale of the Garrett Collection, Part II, March 1980, lot 636; our (Stack's Bowers)/Sotheby's sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection, Part I, May 2015, lot 1070.