Barber Liberty Head Coins

1911-Liberty-Head-nickel-obverse-by-akahodag-on-flickr.jpg Have you ever seen a nickel, dime, quarter, or half-dollar from around the turn of the 20th century?

If you did, then you have seen some of the work of Charles Edward Barber, a noted coin designer.

Barber gained widespread recognition for his depictions of Liberty on many of the coins that were struck during that era.

More on Barber coins, Liberty Head coins, and their values...

Liberty Head vs Barber Coins

Barber is responsible for engraving, designing and co-creating a number of coins that include commemoratives and patterns.

However his most popular work is without doubt the Liberty Head nickels, dimes, quarters, and half-dollars that were struck during the end of the 19th century and into the 20th century. In fact, Barber is so popularly attached to these designs that most collectors tend to call these coins not by their "official" Liberty Head names but, rather, these coins are usually called Barber coins.

If you take a look at most any coin book, coin price guide, or coin catalog, you will indeed find these dimes, quarters, and half-dollars referenced sometimes exclusively as Barber coins. Sometimes "Liberty Head" takes a role as a parenthetical reference to these coins (though sometimes it is the "Barber" reference that is listed as secondary).

Interestingly, Barber’s nickel design is widely referred to as the Liberty nickel, not the Barber nickel. Although, it is not very hard to come across some references to that 5-cent design with an honor to Barber’s name.


Liberty Head Nickels

Liberty Head nickels were struck for regular circulation from 1883 to 1912, though 5 examples of 1913 were produced and have sold at auction for over a million dollars.

Two types of Liberty head nickels exist:

  • There is the "no cents" variety that was struck in 1883; and
  • The "with cents" variety that was first struck in 1883 and lasted right to the very end of the design’s production.

Well-worn examples of common-date Liberty Head nickels can be had for about $5.

Barber Coins

Barber dimes, quarters, and half-dollars were first struck in 1892.

The last Barber half-dollar was struck in 1915, while Barber dimes and Barber quarters were minted until 1916.

1913_quarter_dollar_obverse_Photo_is_public_domain_on_Wikimedia_2.jpg Barber dimes, Barber quarters, and Barber half-dollars saw no design variations during their time. However, lightly worn specimens of these coins have become quite scarce in recent years, as is especially the case with Barber half-dollars.

Overall, Barber coins are very common, as are most dates. But there is a new reality where Barber coins (specifically, Barber half-dollars) are increasingly scarce — for any date — in grades above Very Good to Fine.

Well-worn, common-date Barber dimes and Barber quarters can be purchased for under $10 each. Well-worn, common-date Barber half-dollars can easily be found for less than $25 each.


Who Was Charles E. Barber?

Charles E. Barber became the 6th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint in 1879 after the passing of the 5th Chief Engraver — Charles’ father, William Barber.

Charles Barber built much recognition for himself because of the coins he designed during his tenure as Chief Engraver, a post he held until his death on February 18, 1917.

George T. Morgan, who is famous for designing the Liberty Head silver dollar popularly called the "Morgan" dollar, took over as Chief Engraver after Charles E Barber’s death.





Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green.

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