Barber Quarters, 1892-1916

Barber Quarters, 1892-1916

Designed by: Charles E. Barber

Issued Date: 1892-1916
Composition: 0.900 parts silver, 0.100-part copper
Diameter: 24.3 mm.
Weight: 96.45 grains
Edge: Reeded
Total Business strike mintage: 264,670880
Total Proof strike mintage: 17,299

Increasing public criticism of our nation’s coinage design in the early 1890’s led to a public competition to create new designs. When this competition proved unsuccessful, the Mint adopted Charles Barber’s Liberty head obverse and eagle reverse to be used on regular issue dimes, quarters, and halves beginning in 1892. With slight modifications in 1892, the Barber Quarter was issued annually until 1916.

Most collectors agree that there are three key dates to the series: the 1896-S, 1901-S and 1913-S. In fact, the 1913-S is the lowest mintage silver coin of the entire 20th century, as only 40,000 coins were struck that year at the San Francisco Mint. Altogether there are 14 dates in this series with mintages of less than one million coins, an unusually large number for a 20th century coinage series.

The obverse motif of Miss Liberty is similar to that found on the dime and half dollar and features her facing to the right, her hair in a Phrygian cap, wearing a laurel wreath, with LIBERTY on a small band above her forehead. Six stars are to the left and seven to the right, IN GOD WE TRUST is above, and the date is below. The reverse is an adaptation of the Great Seal of the United States and depicts a heraldic eagle holding in its talons an olive branch and arrows, although the branch and arrows are transposed from the position used on quarter (and other silver and gold) coinage nearly a century earlier. Above the eagle is a galaxy of 13 stars. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and QUARTER DOLLAR surround.

For type set purposes, the numismatist will have no trouble finding coins from Good through Fine. Very Fine coins are scarce, and Extremely Fine pieces are quite scarce, at least in the context of more recent issues. AU and Uncirculated pieces are scarcer yet, and superb Uncirculated coins are rare. Proofs were produced of all years from 1892 through 1915 (but not 1916) and are available in proportion to their original mintage.

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