Liberty Seated Quarters
The Liberty Seated Quarter design was struck from 1838 through 1891. Christian Gobrecht created the Liberty Seated Quarter design, and it was first used on this denomination in 1838. His Liberty Seated designs were used on Dimes, Half Dollars, and as the regular issue circulating Dollars in 1840.
Gobrecht’s design depicts Liberty seated on a rock, her right hand holds a shield inscribed with the word “LIBERTY.” Her left arm holds a pole with a Liberty cap atop it. The date is below Miss Liberty and 13 stars surmount her on the obverse of the coin.
The reverse depicted an American eagle with its wings pointing downward. In its left talon is an olive branch and in the right are three arrows. There is a shield on the eagle’s chest and the inscription “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” above and the denomination “QUAR. DOL.” below the eagle. This is called the “No Motto Variety” and was minted between 1838 and 1853. This is the Variety 1 version which has No Motto ( “E PLURIBUS UNUM”) above the eagle.
The design was altered in 1840 to include drapery. In early 1853, the design was altered to include arrows by the date and rays above the eagle. This is the Variety 2 version. These alterations were added to draw attention to the fact that the weight of the coin, because of the rising price of Silver, was reduced from 6.68 grams to 6.22 grams.
The Rays on the Reverse design was only struck during 1853. The Arrows at the Date Obverse design was struck until 1855. This is the Variety 3 version. The weight of the coin remained at 6.22 grams during this period. By 1856 it was assumed that the public was aware that the weight reduction was a permanent change and Variety 1 with No Arrows at Date, and No Rays at Reverse was resumed. This continued from 1856 until 1865.
Due to increased religious sentiment on both sides during the Civil War, an Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865, and it permitted the Mint Director, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, to place the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on US coins. It appeared on the Quarter Dollar denomination in 1866. This is Variety 4.
In 1866 the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” was also added to the Liberty Seated Half Dollar and Silver Dollar and remained as part of the design on the Quarters through the end of the series in 1891. The next design change occurred in 1873 when arrows were once again added to the date on the obverse due to an increase in the amount of silver in the coin from 6.22 grams to 6.25 grams. This is Variety 5. The weight remained at 6.25 grams until the end of the series in 1891.
The arrows were removed beginning with the 1875 coinage, which was a return to the Variety 4 type, and no further design changes occurred in the series until it was replaced in 1892 by the Barber Quarter.
The Liberty Seated Quarter series had a long and productive run of years. In fact, from Half Dimes to Silver Dollars, the Liberty Seated design is one of the longest-lasting coin designs and it graces 5 different coin denominations - Half Dimes, Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars and Silver Dollars. Six types actually, if you include the amazingly similar design on the short-lived Twenty Cent piece.