It was in 1796 that the first Quarter Eagles were introduced to the public. During this time, the denomination $2.5 is considered to be a substantial amount of money. Despite its value, Quarter Eagles as these Gold Coins were called, were not that in demand compared to other coins. The reason behind this was that the Draped Bust $2.5 gold coin was very small for transactions at the bank but too big for daily commerce.
Robert Scot, the US Mint Chief Engraver of that time created the design for the Draped Bust $2.5. The obverse features a portrait of Miss Liberty facing right. She can be seen wearing a soft cap, the legend LIBERTY inscribed on top of the portrait while the date 1796 is right below. The soft cap that Miss Liberty is seen wearing used to be associated as a Phrygian Cap. However, in 1825, the cap was confirmed to be that of a headdress that was quite popular during the 1790s.
For the reverse, the Draped Bust $2.5 has a Heraldic Eagle Design. The Eagle has the Great Seal of the United States on its breast, with clouds in a form of an arc in between the Eagle’s wings. The clouds are enclosing 16 stars. Around the margin lies the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Inside the ribbon held by the Eagle’s mouth are the words E PLURIBUS UNUM and its talons clutching a single olive branch and three arrows.
This design came to be known as the Type 1 No Stars Draped Bust $2.5. It has a reeded edge, weighs approximately 4.37 grams, is 20 millimeters in diameter and is made up of 91.7% Gold and 8.3% Copper.
After only less than 1,000 pieces were minted, a new designed emerged wherein the obverse now has 13 stars – 6 on the left and 7 on the right symbolizing the original states. From then on, the position of the stars that appeared on the obverse varies almost every year while the number of stars in the reverse changes between 13-16 stars. These came to be the Type 2 Stars on Obverse Draped Bust $2.5 and were minted from 1796-1807. Both Type 1 and Type 2 Draped Bust $2.5 were minted in the Philadelphia Mint.
Varieties and Mintage of the Draped Bust $2.5
Type 1 No Stars Draped Bust $2.5
The first type of the Draped Bust $2.5 was minted only in the year 1796.
1796 No Stars Draped Bust $2.5 – 963 pieces were minted
Type 2 Stars on Obverse Draped Bust $2.5
The second type of the Draped Bust $2.5 was minted from the year 1796 up until 1807. The obverse now has stars on each side of Miss Liberty. The number of stars varies and there were also other variations like overdates and close or wide dates.
1796 Stars – 432 pieces were minted
1797 – 427 pieces were minted
1798 Close Date – 1,094 pieces were minted
1798 Wide Date – 1,094 pieces were minted
1802/’1′ – 3,035 pieces were minted
1804 13 Stars Reverse – 500 pieces were minted
1804 14 Stars Reverse – 2,827 pieces were minted
1805 – 1,781 pieces were minted
1806/4 8X5 Stars – 1,136 pieces were minted
1806/5 7X6 Stars – 480 pieces were minted
1807 – 6,812 pieces were minted
Collecting Draped Bust $2.5
Despite its short years of production, the Draped Bust $2.5 has a number of varieties that collectors would enjoy collecting. There are a total of 13 varieties while the total number of coins produced equals to no more than 20,000 pieces. No proofs were minted. The 1797 issue now only has 20 survivors out of the 427 pieces minted in the US Mint while the 13 stars variety only has 9 survivors. As for the most popular Draped Bust $2.5 among numismatics, 1796 $2.5 is the key date.
One can buy PCGS-graded Draped Bust $2.5 from $3,750.00-$1,750,000.00 – the highest price belonging to a Type 1 No Stars 1796. Other high-priced Quarter Eagles are those dated 1796 Stars on Obverse, 1798 Close Date and 1807.