AoC Market Report: The Current State of U.S. Quarter Types – Part 2: Seated Liberty Quarters & Barber Quarter Dollars

Last week, we had a nice look at the state of the early US Quarter numismatic market. We examined the market for key date and type Draped Bust Quarters and Capped Bust Quarter Dollars.

This week, we’ll look at some beloved U.S. Quarter types: Seated & Barber Quarters. As you know well, the Seated type lasted a long time – most of the 19th century. And of course they circulated much longer than that. Barber Quarters ended the 19th and began the 20th centuries, but had a relatively short (normal = 25 year) run.

Seated Liberty Quarters

Minted from 1838 to 1891
Key Dates: 1870-CC, 1873-CC (1853-O, 1855-O)
Great Years for Type Coins: 1876, 1891, 1844, 1856, 1861, 1853, 1854, 1873

1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarter, Obverse
1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarter, Obverse

Key Date Liberty Seated Quarters

There are two key date Seated Quarters if you have a whole lot of money to throw at coins. If you’re not willing to sell your new Porsche to get one, there’s really just one: the 1870-CC, mintage 8,430.

If you have a spare 5 or 6 figures lying around, you could noodle with picking up one of a handful of 1873-CC No Arrows (supposed mintage of 4,000). But that’s not most of us, so we’ll just ignore that one today.

Note that Carson City minted both types of Seated Quarters for the design type running in 1873, both with arrows and without. And the CC is a key date for both types.

But the key date for the full set is the 1870-CC. It’s also extremely elusive in Mint State, so if you want that, get ready to sell your Porsche. Not your new 911 mind you, but rather your Le Mans-run 917. The one mint state 1870-CC used to belong to Eliasberg, and it’s prooflike. And it hasn’t come up for public sale since 1997. The Battle Born coin recently sold for under $200,000, but it’s only AU.

1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarter, Reverse
1870-CC Liberty Seated Quarter, Reverse

You should be able to pick up an authenticated, certified low grade piece for under $10,000. They don’t come up often, but they’re not ultra-rare. Low grade examples and problem pieces are out there. If you have a VF set of Seated Quarters you’re trying to fill out, you’ll need closer to $20k for this key, and double that again plus some ($52k) for an Extremely Fine example. Beyond that, they’re extremely hard to find, with just a handful in AU.

Much less dear key dates are the earlier arrows coins from New Orleans. But they’re not in the same realm as the hallowed CCs.

Seated Liberty Quarters for your Type Set

1876 Liberty Seated Quarter, Obverse
1876 Liberty Seated Quarter, Obverse

There are a gaggle of dates that will work for your Type Set, some with just a tiny premium over other good type coins. If you want an earlier piece (and they do have a slightly different look and feel about them than later coins), you could opt for an 1844 (421,000). 1856 and ’57 (7 and 9 million, respectively) are great years, too. Another affordable year in many grades is 1861 (mintage of about 5 million), and seeing as that date puts it right at the beginning of the Civil War, some history buffs will like that one.

Another great year to collect, and perhaps the best type coin of all, is the 1876 from the Philadelphia Mint, which made almost 18,000,000 quarters that year. They are also hugely saved compared to other years, likely because of the Centennial connection.

If you want the only Arrows-at-Date and Rays example, you’re in luck because 1853s are extremely plentiful in all grades. If anybody tries to sell you an 1853 as a key date, walk away – they know not one thing of which they speak. 1853 had one of the highest mintages of all years at 15 million. 1854s are common, too, and for the later Arrows type 1873-P is the coin to get (over 1 million made).

I’ll run down loose pricing for 1876 with the understanding that most of the other dates listed here are close in price or slightly more dear in some grades.

1876 Liberty Seated Quarter, Reverse
1876 Liberty Seated Quarter, Reverse

You can pick up an 1876 for $10 with a little patience. Definitely a decent coin under $20. If you want a nicer coin in the Very Fine range, you might spend closer to $50, but you surely don’t have if the coin is raw and you like the look. Once you get to XF, you’re closing in on $100. But as with all Seateds be skeptical of raw coins labelled as Extremely Fine as most sellers tend to exaggerate Very Fine grades to the untrained.

Once you get into choice AU, you definitely want to buy certified just to have the grade locked in. These coins are common, but you don’t want to argue about grade when you’re getting into $300 or $400. You can even pick up a nice Mint State piece for under $600 – perhaps even an eye appealing piece close to $500 if you’re careful.

The highest-graded certified pieces are Mint State 67+, and the market for them is well under $10,000. A 7 sold in 2012 for over $12,000, but the market has changed a bit since then.

So, let’s see: a Fair 2 1870-CC or a Mint State 67 1876? Same money, your choice

Barber Quarters

Minted from 1892 to 1916
Key Date: 1913-S
Great Years for Type Coins (many): 1892, 1898, 1899, 1901, 1909, 1916-D

1913-S Barber Quarter, Obverse
1913-S Barber Quarter, Obverse

Key Date Barber Quarters

Unfortunately, there are a few tougher coins in this set keeping you from getting your album complete. But, the biggie is the 1913-S, mintage of 40,000. We had one on as our Daily Coin not long ago, and it got surprisingly little interest. I would think a low-grade Barber selling for close to $500 would be good info for pickers!

You can pick up a low grade 1913-S for around $400 with patience and little regard for beauty. A nice VF will set you back about $6,000, and an XF can be picked up for around $8,000. A choice AU piece for your type set will probably be over $10,000, and a choice MS will be closer to $15k.

1913-S Barber Quarter, Reverse
1913-S Barber Quarter, Reverse

If you have to have the best, you’ll want a Mint State 68, and though none have come up for auction recently, you should expect to pay on the order of $150,000 I suspect, should one of the extremely few come up.

Great Barber Quarters for your Type Set

1916-D Barber Quarter, Obverse
1916-D Barber Quarter, Obverse

The good news is that while the set is tough to complete in pretty much any grade, there are plenty of type coins with plenty of bang for your buck.

Perhaps the best of the bunch is from the final year, the transitional year from Barber to SLQ: 1916. The Denver Mint pushed out over 6,500,000 silver quarters near the end of World War One. (Which is why they didn’t have to make too many Standing Liberty Quarters, but of course we’ll get into that in next week’s article.)

1916-D Barber Quarter, Reverse
1916-D Barber Quarter, Reverse

You can get a low grade common date Barber Quarter for under $10. You can get really low grade Barbers at just a slight premium over melt, if you have a dealer that does junk boxes. But if you want a decent Barber Quarter, you’ll have to spend $20 to get one in the VF range, $30 to get it already certified. XF pieces can be had for under $80, and nice AUs are often over $200, so you’ll want to have that coin certified. Nice Mint State pieces are usually over $300. The top of the line for a 1916-D Barber Quarter is Mint State 68, and that will set you back around $8,500 or more these days.

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