HomeUS Type CoinsType Coins SilverQuarters - Liberty Seated Quarter with motto 1866-1891

Quarters – Liberty Seated Quarter with motto 1866-1891


The “Seated Liberty” designs appeared on most regular-issue silver United States coinage during the mid- and late-nineteenth century, from 1836 through 1891. The denominations which featured the Seated Liberty design included the half dime, the dime, the quarter, the half dollar, and the silver dollar. Another coin that appeared exclusively in the Seated Liberty design was the twenty cent piece. This coin was produced from 1875 to 1878, and was discontinued because it looked very similar to the quarter. Seated Liberty coinage was minted at the main United States Mint in Philadelphia, as well as the branch mints in New Orleans, San Francisco, and Carson City.

The Seated Liberty Quarter series as a whole consists of 6 different types, Each with its own story as a reflection of the economic and social times from which they were produced.

Photos used with permission and courtesy of Gold Rarities Gallery


The basic obverse design of the Seated Liberty coinage consisted of the figure of the goddess Liberty clad in a flowing dress and seated upon a rock. In her left hand, she held a pole surmounted by a liberty cap, which had been a pre-eminent symbol of freedom during the movement of Neoclassicism. Although it had fallen out of favor in Europe by 1830, Neoclassicism remained in vogue in the United States until after the American Civil War. Liberty’s right hand rested on the top corner of a striped shield with a diagonal banner inscribed with the word “LIBERTY.” The shield represented preparedness in the defense of freedom. The date of the coin appeared on the bottom below Liberty.


The basic reverse design of Seated Liberty coins depended on the denomination. On quarter, half dollars, and silver dollar coins, the reverse featured a central eagle about to take flight, with a striped shield upon its breast. The eagle clutched an olive branch of peace in its right talons and a group of arrows in its left talons. Above the eagle around the rim were the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and below the eagle around the rim lay the coin denomination. Beginning in 1866 the coins featured a ribbon with the motto “In God We Trust” above the eagle, which is the distinguishing feature of this Type

The now-familiar motto IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared in 1864 on the newly introduced two-cent piece. ( see the article below on the History of “In God We Trust” ) Reaction was so positive that on March 3, 1865, Congress mandated its use on all gold and silver coins of suitable size. Implementation came in 1866, when seven other coins joined the two-cent piece in making this statement of faith. Among these was the Seated Quarter dollar with Motto type.

Generally this type is available in higher grades dated 1879 and latter, similar to the Half Dollar, however circulated example, while scare, should be easily found for the early dates, as these were produced in fairly generous amounts.

Proof coins of this type are available in proportion to the original date mintages. Some are not particularly well struck and many of the latter date Mint sate coins after 1879 are highly prooflike.


Designer: Obverse by Thomas Sully, modified by Christian Gobrecht and Robert Ball Hughes, executed by James Barton Longacre; Reverse by Christian Gobrecht, modified by James Barton Longacre
Mintage: All Years 72,680,181 Proofs: 20,923
Denomintion: $0.25
Diameter: ±24.3 millimeters
Metal content: 90% Gold – 10% Copper
Weight: ±96 grains (±6.2 grams)

Additional Resources :

History of “In God We Trust”

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