Classic Head Gold, 1834-1839

Classic Head Gold, 1834-1839

Following the Act of June 28, 1834, which mandated a reduction in weight of gold coins, Chief Engraver William Kneass redesigned the quarter eagle and the half eagle. The new format on both denominations, called the “Classic Head” by collectors today features the head of Miss Liberty facing left, her hair secured by a band inscribed LIBERTY, stars circling her head with the date below. The reverse depicts an eagle with a shield on its beast, perched on an olive branch and holding three arrows. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and 2 ½ D. or 5D surrounds. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, used on quarter eagles since 1796, was discontinued. In 1838 half eagles were struck at Charlotte and Dahlonega mints (Charlotte also struck an 1838 quarter eagle), followed the next year by supplementary coinage at and New Orleans. By far, the greatest number of Classic Head quarter eagles were produced at Philadelphia, which discontinued the design for quarter eagles in 1838 and half eagles in 1839 in favor of the Liberty Head design.

Examples of this style can be obtained readily in grades from Fine through Extremely Fine. AU pieces are scarce, and Uncirculated pieces are scarcer yet.  Superb Uncirculated coins are very rare. Uncirculated pieces of the first year of issue, 1834, often display prooflike surfaces.

 

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