Early US Quarters

Right Now on eBay 
Clicking a link to eBay may result in a referral commission being paid if a purchase is made.

The United States quarter dollar, often simply referred to as the quarter, is a coin with a rich and storied history that has spanned over two centuries. Its origins can be traced back to the early days of the United States, and it has undergone numerous transformations in design and purpose throughout its existence.

The quarter made its debut in 1796, thanks to the Coinage Act of 1792. This landmark legislation not only established the United States Mint but also authorized the production of various denominations of coins, including the quarter. The original design of the quarter showcased a bust of Liberty on the obverse, symbolizing the ideals of freedom and democracy, and featured an eagle with outstretched wings on the reverse, representing the nation’s strength and independence. These early quarters were a testament to the aspirations of a young and growing nation.

As the United States continued to evolve culturally, historically, and politically, so too did the design of the quarter. One of the most significant design changes occurred in 1831 when Chief Engraver William Kneass introduced a new portrayal of Liberty known as the “Capped Bust” quarter. This design featured a smaller, more intricate representation of Liberty, and it remained in circulation until 1838. It was a reflection of the changing artistic sensibilities of the time.

In 1838, Christian Gobrecht, who was the third Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, introduced the “Seated Liberty” design. This iconic design depicted a seated figure of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle on the reverse. The “Seated Liberty” design quickly gained popularity and became a symbol of American freedom. It graced the quarter for over 50 years, witnessing the nation’s growth and transformation.

In 1892, the “Barber” design was introduced, named after its designer, Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. The Barber quarter featured a bust of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle with outstretched wings on the reverse, accompanied by a heraldic shield. The design, while simple, was characterized by its elegant and timeless appeal. The Barber quarter remained in circulation until 1916, marking yet another chapter in the quarter’s evolving story.