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Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, No Drapery (1838-1840)

1838 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1838 Liberty Seated Quarter. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

The history of the three-year Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, No Drapery type, which ran from 1838 through 1840, begins a couple of years earlier.

Engraver Christian Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated motif was first seen in 1836 on the silver dollar and then in 1837 on the half dime and dime. The design was applied to the quarter in 1838, though the year has both this type and the previous Capped Bust type.

The first half dime and dime issues did not have stars surrounding Liberty on the obverse field, matching the original dollars of 1836. However, to conform to United States Mint policy of having standard designs on coins made from the same metal, stars were added to the obverse of half dimes, dimes, and dollars in 1838. The first Liberty Seated Quarters minted in 1838 also display stars, as do the first Liberty Seated Half Dollars produced in 1839.

Quarters produced in the first three years of the type did, however, have another design distinction, apparent only when compared to issues produced from late 1840 forward (1840-dated issues exist in both types). Robert Ball Hughes, a sculptor originally from London, was hired in late 1840 to make modifications to Liberty on the Seated design. Along with other changes, Hughes added extra drapery that extended from Liberty’s left elbow down over her knee. This earlier No Drapery Liberty Seated Quarter type has neither extra drapery nor Hughes’ other changes, but the lack of drapery has become the identifier of the type.

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

Approximately 1,500 business strike No Drapery Liberty Seated Quarters have been certified by the leading grading services, with the 1840-O Liberty Seated Quarter being the scarcest issue.

Prices are modest to AU55, expensive to near-Gem, and very expensive as Gem and finer. New Orleans Mint issues dated 1840 are more costly as Select Uncirculated and finer. Twenty specimen pieces were sent by Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson to Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury. It is not known whether these coins were technically Proofs, as some have claimed. Only four examples in Proof for this type have been certified.



A full-length representation of Liberty is seated on a rock wearing long, flowing robes, 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 curved banner displaying the word LIBERTY. The date is centered at the bottom, below the rock upon which Liberty rests. 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. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA forms a concentric arc inside of the top two-thirds of the denticles circling the rim, with the denomination QUAR. DOL. visually completing the circle at the bottom. Liberty Seated quarters were minted at Philadelphia and New Orleans; the O mintmark is located above the denomination, below the crossed ends of the branch and the arrows.


The edge of the Liberty Seated No Motto No Drapery Quarter is reeded.

No Drapery Liberty Seated Quarter Coin Specifications

Liberty Seated Quarter, No Motto, Drapery
Years of Issue: 1838-40
Mintage (Circulation): High: 491,146 (1839); Low 382,200 (1840-O)
Mintage (Proof): No more than 20 known
Alloy: 90% silver and 10% copper
Weight: 6.68 g
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

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