1839-D $2.50 Classic Head Gold Quarter Eage

Classic Head Quarter Eagles Facts:

Mint Director Samuel Moore instructed Kneass to prepare dies for a new design. Kneass, pressed for time, chose to borrow John Reich's "Classic Head" design from the large cents of 1808-14 and the eagle from his gold coins of 1807.

Kneass' adaptation depicted Reich's androgynous Liberty facing left, her curly hair cascading down the back of her neck, tied by a headband inscribed with LIBERTY. Thirteen stars surround the bust, with the date below. The reverse features an eagle perched on an olive branch and clutching three arrows, encircled by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and 2 D.  As the design was similar to the previous Capped Head motif, officials decided to delete the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, providing the public with an easy way to distinguish the new, lighter-weight pieces.

Modifications were made to the design from the very beginning, first by Kneass, later by his successor, Christian Gobrecht. The 1834 issues were struck with two different heads, characterized by collectors as the "Small Head" and "Booby Head." The 1835 coins show a taller, thinner bust. After Kneass suffered a stroke in 1835, Gobrecht continually experimented with improving and strengthening the design, making minor changes each year, none of which proved to be an improvement.

The Classic Head design appeared on the quarter eagle from 1834 through 1839, with 968,228 business strikes and fewer than forty proofs made. In the first three years, production was more than ten times the total of all previous quarter eagle mintages combined, with 1836 alone seeing over a half-million pieces made. The design debuted at the new Southern branch mints of Charlotte, North Carolina (C) in 1838, and Dahlonega, Georgia (D) and New Orleans, Louisiana (O) in 1839. Mint marks are found over the date.

When grading this design, wear first appears on the hair above Liberty's eye and ear, on her cheek, and on the eagle's wings. Branch mint issues often come very weakly struck and should be graded accordingly. Many pieces were used for jewelry and may show evidence of retooling or solder removal.


Diameter: 18.2 millimeters

Weight: 4.18 grams

Metal Content: .8992 gold, .1008 copper

Edge: Reeded

Weight: .12084 ounce pure gold

Some info courtesy of (NGC).


1834  No motto on reverse.
1836 Found with Normal and Fancy 8's in the date.

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Mint mark location on the obverse.
Mint mark location on the reverse.
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