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Liberty Seated Quarter, Arrows (1873-1874) | CoinWeek

1873-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1873-CC Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

Liberty Seated Quarters were produced from 1838 through 1891, when the design was replaced by United States Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber’s Liberty Head motif (referred to as the Barber type). A Guide Book of United States Coins, the familiar Red Book, recognizes five sub-types of Seated Quarters; in two instances a preceding sub-type (as defined by the obverse/reverse designs) was resumed after a short period of modification that indicated a weight change. Other changes were more aesthetic.

For quarters, the first resumption of a sub-type occurred after an interlude of three years of lower-weight coins (1853-1855) identified first by arrows and rays, then by arrows without rays. The second resumption of a type followed two years (1873-1874) of quarters that were of slightly higher weight than the previous coins, also identified by the use of an arrow on each side of the date. A simplified list of the Liberty Seated Quarter SUB-types is:

No Motto Sub-Types

With Motto (IN GOD WE TRUST) Sub-Types

  • Motto; No Arrows or Rays; weight 6.22 grams; 1866-1873 (Sub-Type 5)
  • Motto; Arrows, No Rays; weight 6.25 grams; 1873-1874 (Sub-Type 6) – the presently discussed sub-type.
  • Motto; No Arrows or Rays; weight 6.25 grams; 1875-1891 (Sub-Type 5 Resumed)

Why Did Arrows Return on the Quarters of 1873-1874?

The Mint Act of February 12, 1873, later referred to as the “Crime of ’73” by pro-silver partisans, put the United States on a de facto gold standard by eliminating the unpopular silver dollar coin. In its place, the United States Mint produced a silver Trade Dollar for the international market. The Act also deprecated the Two-Cent Piece and half dime and moved the Mint’s headquarters from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.

Proposed by Ohio Senator John Sherman (R), the Act reflected his advocacy not only of the gold standard but also for a European-style metric coinage system, both promoted heavily at the 1867 Paris Monetary Conference. The small weight change in the quarter established its weight at an even metric unit (.25 instead of .22), but as a standard, it was too close to the old weight of the quarter to have a significant influence on the American public.

Bimetallism was the larger and much more politically charged issue. The abolition of the silver dollar (which was also abandoned from 1804-1836) blunted domestic demand for silver–now plentiful in the American West. This reduced demand was at the heart of the loaded “crime” criticisms.

With the added weight, the Mint resumed the same arrow signifier to inform the public of the change in tenor. And while the 1853-1855 arrows indicate a slight lowering of the coin’s weight (and silver content), the 1873-1874 arrows indicate a slight raising of weight.

How Much Are Liberty Seated Quarters With Arrows Worth?

A few thousand business strike Liberty Seated Quarters With Arrows produced in 1873 and 1874 are listed in the leading third-party grading company population reports, with significantly fewer examples certified from Carson City and San Francisco in 1873.

Prices are modest for most dates to MS63 but become increasingly expensive in higher grades. The 1873-S is expensive as MS63 and finer, and the 1873-CC is expensive to very expensive at lower grades and extremely expensive in Mint State.

A few hundred Proof specimens of the Liberty Seated Quarter With Arrows have been certified, including some designated Cameo. Prices are uniform for examples of either date, with Cameo pieces slightly more expensive; all are expensive as PR64 and finer.

Design

Obverse:

On the obverse is a full-length representation of Liberty wearing long, flowing robes, seated on a rock, and head turned back to her right. Her left arm is bent and holds a pole topped by a Liberty cap. The right arm extends down at her side, hand supporting a Union shield bearing a slightly curved banner displaying the word LIBERTY. The date is centered at the bottom, below the rock upon which Liberty rests, and is flanked on each side by a short arrowhead. Inside denticles along the raised rim, 13 six-pointed stars form a partial circle: seven to the left of Liberty, one between Liberty’s head and the Liberty cap, and five to the right of the cap.

Reverse:

The reverse has a centered left-facing eagle with extended but partly folded wings. The eagle clutches three arrows in the left claw and an olive branch in the right; a Union shield is placed over the chest. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA forms a concentric arc around the top two-thirds of the surface, inside of the denticles circling the rim, with the denomination of QUAR. DOL. at the bottom visually completing the circle. Liberty Seated Quarters With Arrows, quarters were minted at Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Carson City; S and CC mintmarks are located above the denomination just below the crossed ends of the branch and the arrows.

Coin Specifications

Liberty Seated Quarter, Arrows
Years of Issue: 1873-74
Mintage (Circulation): High: 1,271,160 (1873); Low: 12,462 (1873-CC)
Mintage (Proof): High: 700 (1874); Low: 540 (1873)
Alloy: 90% silver and 10% copper
Weight: 6.25 g
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht, from sketches by Titian Peale/Thomas Sully
REV Designer: Christian Gobrecht

 

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References

Bowers, Q. David. The Experts Guide to Collecting & Investing in Rare Coins. Whitman Publishing.

–. A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. Whitman Publishing.

Breen, Walter. Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins. Doubleday.

Guth, Ron and Jeff Garrett. United States Coinage: A Study by Type. Whitman Publishing.

Taxay, Don. The U.S. Mint and Coinage. Arco Publishing.

Yeoman, R.S. and Jeff Garrett (editor). The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Whitman Publishing.

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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