Silver Barber Quarters - Their History, Rarity and Design
By | June 21, 2016

Demand for New U.S. Coin Design

In the mid-19th century, people were becoming unhappy with the artwork on U.S. coins. They thought they were “too European,” too ordinary, or just too ugly. That prompted mint director James Kimball to announce a design competition for new coin designs. But politics intervened and it took an act of Congress, signed in 1890 by President Benjamin Harrison after several delays, to authorize the mint to solicit new artwork.

James Barber Dime, Quarter and Half-Dollar Designs

Within a month after the 1890 Coinage Act, the mint had a new director, Edward O. Leech, and after a surprisingly contentious competition, all the submitted designs were rejected. Frustrated, Leech turned to the mint’s Chief Engraver James Barber and told him to come up with designs for the dime, quarter and half-dollar. After some changes to satisfy Leech, the designs were approved by President Harrison and the coins went into production in January, 1892.

All three coins featured Liberty’s head facing right, wearing a crown of olive branches and a headband inscribed “Liberty.” The quarter and half-dollar have the motto “In God We Trust” above her head and the rest of the coin’s face (obverse) is encircled with 13 stars and the date of issue at the bottom. The reverse has a heraldic eagle with a scroll inscribed “E Pluribus Unum” held in its mouth. The dime had a different motto on its face and a wreath surrounding the words “One Dime” on the reverse.

90% Silver Barber Quarter and MacNeil Standing Liberty Quarter

The Barber quarter was of 90% silver (0.07234 troy oz.) and 10% copper. Over 250 million were produced between 1892 and 1916 when they were replaced by Standing Liberty quarters designed by Hermon MacNeil.

The 1916-D quarter is the first quarter struck at the newly-opened Denver Mint. 3,280,000 were produced there that year. 6,540,800 1916-D quarters were made in the design’s final year.

The 1913-S is the smallest issue with only 40,000 made. Other rare mintages include:

  • 1896-S 188,039
  • 1897-S 542,229
  • 1901-S 72,664
  • 1909-O 712,000
  • 1913 484,000
  • 1914-S 264,000
  • 1915-S 704,000

Rare, High-Grade Barber Quarters

It’s not difficult to find high-grade Barber quarters, but the rare dates are hard to come by and very expensive. The 1901-S is considered the rarest and most expensive today with prices running into thousands of dollars for higher grades. Other than rare dates, condition is the prime determinant of value rather than date, and a higher grade can account for major price differences.

90% Silver Barber Quarter $100 Face Value Bags

The Great American Coin Company® is pleased to offer $100 face value bags of circulated 90% silver Barber quarters for collectors and investors alike. They’re part of our wide selection of U.S. and foreign coins and banknotes available for both seasoned and beginning collectors.

Whether you’re a seasoned collector or just getting started, be sure to browse the selection of U.S. and foreign coins and banknotes available online from The Great American Coin Company. Our inventory is constantly changing, so be sure to

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