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US Coin - 1808 - Capped Bust Quarter Eagle - Philadelphia

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Common Name Quarter Eagle
Denomination Quarter Eagle
Year 1808
Mint Philadelphia
Series Capped Bust Quarter Eagle
Material Gold 92
Mintage 2,710

Designer: John Reich

History: The Capped Bust (Facing Left) design used on the quarter and half eagles from 1807 through 1834 is tied up with the history of US Mint politics during the fledgling years of the United States. Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State and responsible for the US Mint) first tried to recruit Jean Pierre Droz for the job. After failing at this, the mint director, David Rittenhouse, selected Joseph Wright for the job. Wright, unfortunately had the bad luck of succumbing to yellow fever shortly after accepting the job. Rittenhouse was now beyond desperate and settled upon Robert Scot, a watchmaker and banknote engraver. This turned out to be a poor choice due not only to Scot's failing eysight and poor health, but also due to his autocratic and jealous nature.

Meanwhile Jefferson became involved once again and discovered Robert Reich, a talented young German who had come to the United States as a refugee from the Napleonic Wars. Jefferson persuaded Rittenhouse to take on Reich as a successor for Scot. Unfortunately, from 1801 through 1807, Robert Scot relegated the talented Reich to menial tasks completely unsuited for an assistant engraver. After six years of servitude under the tyrannical Scot, Rech threatened to pack up and go back to Germany. The new director of the mint, Patterson, stepped in and forced Scot to allow Reich to design the half and quarter eagles. The artistic quality of this design was considered to be a huge step beyond Scot's work. The European lines of Liberty's face and hair complemented the full bust of the design and even the heraldic eagle on the reverse assumed a far more natural pose on his olive branch.

Sadly, Scot's jealousy of Rech and his designs finally proved too much for Reich and he left the mint in 1817. Scot immediately set about replacing and revising Reich's designs. This resulted in a huge number of variations and redesigns of this series of coins.

Item created by: Lethe on 2015-05-31 17:46:30. Last edited by gdm on 2019-10-18 09:09:48

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