PCGS - The 1841 $2.50 "Little Princess" Quarter Eagle symbolizes one of the most controversial numismatic reclassifications in recent years. A coin long regarded as a proof-only issue, the 1841 Quarter Eagle was determined by numerous coin experts to have been struck as both a proof and a circulation strike. The news made waves when PCGS announced in February 2012 that the 1841 Quarter Eagle whimsically nicknamed "The Little Princess" was being attributed as either a circulation strike or proof, depending on the characteristics of the individual coin. The news had implications not only on what grade given examples would receive but, perhaps more importantly for collectors of this rarity, also changes in population and condition censuses and, subsequently, values.
Only a handful of 1841 $2.50 gold coins is known, period. Numismatic experts believe 20 coins were made in total and manifest as four proofs and about 16 circulation strikes. Numismatists receive little help from United States Mint records on determining the status of this coin, as no such documents even acknowledge the creation of any 1841 Quarter Eagles. Odd, as perhaps 20 are known to exist and are accounted for in the flesh. It's not unlike the situation surrounding the 1870-S Liberty Seated half dime or 1870-S Liberty Seated dollar, among other coins that are known to exist but also are not counted in mint records.