Collecting Seated Liberty Quarters

seated-liberty-quarter-public-domain-photo.png Seated Liberty quarters, made from 1838 through 1891, represent a long era in United States coin history.

Seated Liberty quarters were the coinage of a divided nation during the Civil War.

Seated Liberty quarter production continued through Reconstruction and into the 1890s, when some of the modern conveniences of telephones, electric light bulbs, and even prototypes for automobiles were just coming into use.

Indeed, the Seated Liberty quarter was an important coin at an important time in United States history.

 

Seated Liberty Quarters

Seated Liberty quarters were designed by Christian Gobrecht.

The reverse of Seated Liberty coinage depicts an eagle clutching arrows and an olive branch.

The Seated Liberty design appeared on virtually all silver coinage of the mid-to-late 19th century, becoming one of the longest-running coin designs in American history.

5 Different Varieties of Liberty Seated Coinage

Over the course of more than half a century of the Seated Liberty design on the quarter, some 5 varieties of the design resulted, thanks to minor modifications of the lettering and symbols on the coin.

  • Variety 1, which lasted from 1838 through 1853 doesn’t have the motto ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ above the eagle. Variety 1 returned on the coin from 1856 through 1865.
  • Variety 2, which ran in 1853, shows an arrow on each side of the ate and rays emanating from the eagle.
  • Variety 3, from 1854 through 1855, leaves the arrows at the date but removed the rays from around the eagle.
  • Variety 4 was first minted in 1866 and lasted through 1873; it has the motto ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ above the eagle and no arrows or rays. Variety 4 also was used from 1875 through 1891.
  • Variety 5 was minted from 1873 through 1874 and has arrows around the date and the motto above the eagle.

Rare Seated Liberty Quarters

There are many rare, scarce, and difficult dates in the Seated Liberty quarter series. In fact, it’s safe to say that only very few people could ever actually complete a full date-and-mintmark collection of Seated Liberty quarters.

That’s one reason the design is most popular as a type coin; to obtain every single date and mintmark is something very few people could afford, because there are simply too many rare dates in the series.

Even if the prices are ‘affordable’ to you, you’ll still be hard pressed to locate some of the dates in the series. The availability of some coins, especially in the higher grades, is much lower than mintage numbers may sometimes suggest.

Since so many dates in the Seated Liberty quarter series can be relatively difficult to obtain, we’ll look at values for only the scarcer and most-expensive dates right here:

*Price ranges are approximate for ‘Good’ (low price) to ‘About Uncirculated’ (high price)

  • 1842-O, small date: $800-$12,500
  • 1849-O: $425-$8,000
  • 1854-O, huge O: $900-$20,000
  • 1859-S: $150-$45,000
  • 1860-S: $700-$35,000
  • 1861-S: $125-$17,000
  • 1862-S: $100-$3,000
  • 1864-S: $450-$9,000
  • 1866: $350-$2,400
  • 1866-S: $250-$4,500
  • 1867: $225-$2,600
  • 1867-S: $225-$11,500
  • 1868: $120-$700
  • 1868-S: $100-$2,500
  • 1869: $375-$1,300
  • 1869-S: $100-$2,850
  • 1870-CC: $9,500-$75,000
  • 1871-CC: $4,500-$95,000
  • 1871-S: $325-$6,500
  • 1872-CC: $1,500-$21,000
  • 1872-S: $950-$9,500
  • 1873, closed 3: $200-$7,500
  • 1873-CC, Variety 4: $125,000
  • 1873-CC, Variety 5: $4,750-$67,500
  • 1875-CC: $100-$2,250
  • 1878-S: $150-$1,900
  • 1879: $175-$675
  • 1880: $175-$675
  • 1881: $175-$675
  • 1882: $175-$675
  • 1883: $175-$675
  • 1884: $250-$725
  • 1885: $175-$675
  • 1886: $325-$1,100
  • 1887: $250-$675
  • 1888: $250-$675
  • 1889: $175-$575
  • 1891-O: $160-$3,000

Other Seated Liberty Values

For values on any of the Seated Liberty quarters not listed above, a general rule is that any common Seated Liberty quarters that are well worn but not damaged or cleaned in any way are worth about $18 to $20 and up.

If a common-date Seated Liberty quarter has any holes, scratches, discoloration, bends in the metal, has been cleaned, or is otherwise not problem free, values may range from about $5 to $15 for a coin that’s well worn.

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'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, and living green with others.

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