Classic key date Barber quarter. One of the 'big 3' keys along with the 1901-S and 1913-S.
Wow! The 1896-S quarter offered here is a truly amazing gem -- quite likely the finest of the 16 certified specimens at PCGS and NGC combined. (9 at PCGS; 7 at NGC with some duplication to be sure).
Over the years we've handled 9 of the 16 MS65's in the pop reports and none have struck us as having the quality of this piece. It is a frosty white coin, original white without the appearance under careful examination of having been dipped as it has a very thin skin of originality on the surfaces which have protected it from toning further. Almost all other gem 1896-S quarters we've handled have been either heavily toned, or dipped white.
The obverse of this piece is very high end for the MS65 grade. In fact we give it a technical grade of MS65.5. The reverse is even more exciting. Pure white with radiant luster with thick frost and nearly perfect surfaces -- we grade the reverse a solid MS67.
Does that mean this example is an MS66? To date PCGS has graded just one MS66. NGC none in MS66 but a single MS67. We strongly believe this coin is at the very top of it's grade standard.
The most recent auction record for this date was $64,975 (PCGS MS65; Heritage; 2/08).