Seated Liberty Quarter

Posted by on November 17, 2011

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Seated (1838-1853) 6.68 90% silver, 10% copper
Seated (1853-1873) 6.22 90% silver, 10% copper
Seated (1873-1891) 6.25 90% silver, 10% copper
seatedlibertyquarterobverse 300x298 Seated Liberty Quarter

Seated Liberty Quarter Obverse

By the time the Seated Liberty Quarter was produced in 1838 the United States Mint started using a closed collar when striking which added a reeding to the coin (a reeding is a number of narrow, vertical grooves on the edge of a coin).  The reeding also improved the look and durability of the "Sitting Liberty". Christian Gobrecht designed the Seated Liberty based on paintings commissioned by the United States Mint done by Thomas Sully for the obverse and Titian Peale for the reverse.  These designs were first to be used for a silver dollar coin. the United States had not struck a silver dollar coin since 1804 so the Mint proceeded with caution.

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Christian Gobrecht was already an accomplished engraver and had once passed on an offer for an apprenticeship position at the United Stated Mint. He thought the Chief Engraver salary of $1,200 a year was too low, so the $600 a year for the apprenticeship was completely unacceptable.  However with the increase in the need for coinage, new mints in Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans were built. Thus, a need for a “second engraver” could be justified with an increase of wages for both to $1,600 a year.  In 1835 the “first” Engraver William Kneass had a sever stroke which put him out of work for several months. He was never able to return to the finer engraving work.

The Seated Liberty coin was minted from 1838 to 1891.  During these 53 years there were seven different variations produced and three different weights.  All variations are 24.3mm in diameter, have reeded edges, and contain 90% silver with 10% copper.


seatedlibertyquarterreverse 300x300 Seated Liberty Quarter

Seated Liberty Quarter Reverse

Variation 1) ‘No Drapery obverse’ 1838-1839 (and from the New Orleans Mint only in 1840) - weighs 6.68 grams.  The obverse has Liberty Seated on a rock in a flowing gown.  Liberty has a staff in left hand with a cap on it and her right hand rests on a shield with “LIBERTY” engraved on it.  The date is underneath and thirteen stars encircle the top of this silver coin.

The reverse has a bald eagle looking left with wings spread and a national shield on its chest.  An olive branch is clutched in its right claw, and arrows in its left. If there is a mint mark (“O” for New Orleans) it will be under the eagle.  “QUAR.DOL.” encircles underneath and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircles the top of the coin.

Variation 2) ‘With Drapery’ - additional cloth was draped over the elbow of Liberty holding the staff. It was designed by Robert Ball Hughes starting in 1940 for the Philadelphia Mint, and 1941 for the New Orleans Mint. It weighs 6.68 grams.

Variation 3) ‘Arrows at Date’ & ‘Rays’ 1853 - Silver prices were rising and it was decided by the United States Congress to reduce the weight of all silver coins minted in the United States.  On the obverse an arrow pointing to the date. On the reverse the eagle was surrounded ‘rays’.  Weight: 6.22 grams.

Variation 4) ‘Arrows at Date, no Rays’ 1854 and 1855 - the ‘rays’ around the eagle were dropped, the arrows on the obverse remained. The San Francisco Mint started striking these in 1855 and are notated with the letter 'S'. Weight: 6.22 grams.  

Variation 5) ‘With Drapery’ 1856 to 1865. - The arrows pointing out the date were dropped.  The New Orleans Mint was closed in 1861 and reopened in 1879 but only struck the Seated Liberty Quarter again in 1891. Weight: 6.22 grams.

Variation 6) ‘Moto’ 1866 to 1873 - these coins weighed 6.22 grams and from 1875 to 1891 they weighed 6.25 grams.  On the reverse a ribbon with “IN GOD WE TRUST” is added above the eagle.  The Carson City Mint (notated on the coins with the letters ‘CC’) was completed and started striking this series in 1870.

Variation 7) ‘Arrows & Moto’ 1873 and 1874 - the weight was increased, weighing 6.25 grams.  When new silver mines were started, arrows were added once again around the date indicating this change.  Carson City did not not strike any in 1874.

1875 to 1891 finished this series ‘with Moto’ at the new weight of 6.25 grams.  The Seated Liberty was only struck in Philadelphia from 1879 on except for 1888 when San Francisco struck over a million and in 1891 over two million.  New Orleans also struck 68,000 in 1891.

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One comment on “Seated Liberty Quarter

  1. Cash for Gold Rochester NY on said:

    Who, a nice article, i am gonna use it for my new blog.

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