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Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, Drapery (1840-1865)

1850 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1850 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

Why this subtype is called the Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, Drapery requires some explanation.

In 1840, United States Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson hired miniaturist Robert Ball Hughes to make improvements to Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated coin design. The most noticeable change that Hughes made was adding extra cloth that drapes down behind Liberty’s upright arm. This feature differentiates Liberty Seated Quarters struck from 1838 to the first part of 1840, and and those that come after.

Other changes were made as well. Hughes filled out Liberty’s figure, reduced the size of the draped chair upon which she sits, resized and repositioned the shield, and reworked the LIBERTY banner and legends. Whether or not these are improvements over the original design is a matter of taste.

While Hughes’s modification explains the Drapery aspect, the appellation No Motto was used by numismatists after the fact, as the motto in question is IN GOD WE TRUST, added to the Liberty Seated Quarter in 1866 as the nation began to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Within the production period of this type are two short-term types: Arrows at Date, With Rays and Arrows at Date, Without Rays (or “No Rays”). These were struck from 1853 through 1855 when the rising price of silver prompted Congress to lower the precious metal content of all subsidiary silver coins with exception of the billon Three-Cent Piece.

The rays were eliminated from the Arrows coinage in 1854, due to the excessive die wear caused by the added design elements. In 1856, the arrows were removed and the coin reverted to the No Motto, With Drapery design but at the modified lower weight. This type would continue until 1866, when IN GOD WE TRUST was added to the coin’s reverse.

How Much Are No Motto, With Drapery Liberty Seated Quarters Worth?

A few thousand business strike Seated, No Motto, Drapery quarters are listed in census and population reports, though proportionally fewer for the 1840s, early 1850s, and the early to mid-1860s. A very few Prooflike pieces have been certified. Other than the first year of each of these two types, the Arrows and Rays and Arrows Liberty Seated Quarters produced from 1853 through 1855 are also scarce.

Prices for many dates are moderate up to grades of MS60, expensive from there to near-Gem, and very expensive finer than that. Higher-priced issues include the 1842-O Small Date; 1840s and early 1850s New Orleans Mint issues; the 1853 No Arrows; the 1853/1853 No Arrows, the 1854-O Huge O; and most San Francisco Mint pieces from 1856 through 1865.

A few hundred Proof Liberty Seated, No Motto, Drapery Quarters have been certified, but as with business strike coins, there are far fewer for the 1840s and early to mid-1850s, and for the types with Arrows. Cameo and Deep Cameo/Ultra Cameo pieces show up in census and population reports, mostly from the mid-1850s to the end of the type. Proofs from the 1840s through the 1850s are very expensive to extremely expensive (Gem and finer), and those produced in the 1860s are moderately priced to Proof 63, expensive finer than that. All Proofs minted earlier than 1856 are higher priced, particularly the 1840, the 1841, the 1842 Small Date, the 1843, the 1844, the 1850, and the 1853 Arrows and Rays. Cameo and Deep Cameo/Ultra Cameo pieces have higher premiums.

In-Depth Date Analysis

1861 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack's Bowers.
1861 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack’s Bowers.

Extended Coverage on CoinWeek

1843-O Liberty Seated Quarters and the Eliasberg-Gardner Coin - by Greg Reynolds

Rare coin expert and CoinWeek contributor Greg Reynolds brings his extensive experience and judgment to bear as he examines these three Liberty Seated Quarter issues.

Struck Counterfeit Coins: 1854 Huge O Liberty Seated Quarter + 1-Page Attribution Guide

Numismatist Jack Young and the “Dark Side” Facebook group track down the origins of several counterfeit examples of the desirable 1854-O Huge O variety.

Graders at NGC recently received a counterfeit 1861-S Liberty Seated Quarter and offer these tips for detecting similar fake coins.



A full-length representation of Liberty, wearing long, flowing robes, is seated on a rock, her 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 across which is a slightly curved banner displaying the word LIBERTY. The date is centered at the bottom. In 1853, a short arrowhead was placed on each side of the date to indicate a lower coin weight, remaining as part of the design through 1855. Thirteen stars form a partial circle inside the denticles along the raised rim: seven to the left of Liberty, one between Liberty’s head and the Liberty cap, and five to the right.


The reverse has a centered left-facing eagle with extended but partly folded wings. The eagle clutches three arrows in its left claw and an olive branch in its right. A Union shield is placed over the chest, and on 1853 quarters many radiating lines extend from behind the eagle on all sides nearly to the surrounding legends. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA forms an arc around the top two-thirds of the surface inside of the denticles circling the rim, with the denomination QUAR. DOL. at the bottom visually completing the circle. The No Motto, Drapery Liberty Seated Quarter was minted at Philadelphia, New Orleans, and San Francisco; O and S mintmarks are located above QUAR. DOL., below the crossed ends of the branch and the arrows.


Several varieties are known, including the 1842 Small Date and Large Date; the 1842-O Small Date and Large Date; the 1853 Recut Date, no Arrows or Rays (1853/1853); the 1853 3 over 4 (Arrows and Rays); the 1854-O Huge O; the 1856-S, S Over Small S; the unique 1866 Proof No Motto example, believed to be a fantasy piece; and other, more minor die variations.

Coin Specifications

Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, Drapery
Years of Issue: 1840-65
Mintage (Circulation): High: 9,644,000 (1857; 15,210,020 1853 Arrows and Rays); Low: 20,000 (1864-S)
Mintage (Proof): High: 1,000 (1860 and 1861); Low: Fewer than 10 (1840s through early 1850s)
Alloy: 90% silver and 10% copper
Weight: 6.68 g (1840-1853); 6.22 g (1853-1865)
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Christian Gobrecht, from sketches by Titian Peale/Thomas Sully
REV Designer: John Reich and William Kneass


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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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