Top 9 Most Valuable Quarters

For coin collectors, the humble quarter can be worth considerably more than its face value. But which quarters are valuable and why?

We’re going to take a look at nine of the most valuable quarters out there. And we’ll share how to identify them – and, of course, just how much they might be worth.

So if you’re ready, let’s get started!

Most Valuable Quarters

1. 1873-CC Seated Liberty Quarter MS 63

1873-CC Seated Liberty Quarter MS 63

The CC in this coin designation stands for Carson City. That’s where 4,000 of these quarters were produced in 1873. They depict a seated Lady Liberty on the obverse, engraved by the designer Christian Gobrecht.

In 1873, the price of silver was dropping. The government responded to help prop up the price by slightly increasing the silver content of coins. The increase wasn’t huge – from 0.18 to 0.1808 ounces. But it made the coins different.

The Carson City 4,000, however, had been minted before this change took place. And it’s likely that most of them were melted down again, as only ten are known to exist today.

So how do you tell one of these early Carson City quarters from another? Fortunately, this is very easy to do. When the increase in silver was approved, arrows were added on either side of the date on the new coins.

If your 1873 seated Liberty quarter doesn’t have arrows, it came from that original batch of 4,000 minted in Carson City. And it could be worth a lot of money.

The exact price will depend on the condition. That’s what the letters and numbers mean. The MS 63 coin shown here means it’s a mint state coin. It was produced for general circulation (rather than being a proof, struck for collectors).

The number 63 refers to the quality and wear on the coin. Coins between 60 and 70 were never actually circulated, so they will be in much better condition. The higher the number, the better the quality.

So how much is this particular MS 63 seated Liberty quarter worth? Well, it was sold at auction for $627,467.

2. 1834 Capped Bust Quarter – PCGS PR 67 Cameo

1834 Capped Bust Quarter – PCGS PR 67 Cameo

These days, multiple proofs – high quality coins with excellent detail – are struck for coin collectors. But in 1834, they were only made to order. And as collecting coins didn’t begin to gain popularity as a pastime before the 1850s, earlier proofs are extremely rare.

1834 saw the production of five different types of what are known as “capped bust” quarters. They get their name because of the depiction of Lady Liberty wearing a cap on the obverse.

The five types of quarter that year were formed from different pairings of two obverse and four reverse dies. They are given different designations, from B1 to B5. (The B stands for “Browning”, the type of die used.)

This particular coin is rare and important for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s a proof – that’s what the letters “PR” in its designation stand for.

The second is that it’s very high quality – graded at 67 by the Professional Coin Grading Service, or PCGS. The grading means it’s very well struck, with only tiny imperfections visible with the naked eye. And it has a cameo contrast, with mirrored fields against the frosted (grainier) designs.

Its price? In 2015, it sold for $329,000.

3. 1841 Liberty Seated Quarter – NGC PR 66

1841 Liberty Seated Quarter – NGC PR 66

This 1841 quarter bearing the image of a seated Lady Liberty is exceptionally rare. It’s one of only three such proof coins known to exist. And one of those sits in the Smithsonian Museum. That means it won’t be for sale on the open market any time soon.

Not only that, but this coin, graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Company at 66, is the best quality example of the three.

The fields are deep and mirrored, contrasting with the design motifs when the coin is tilted to the light. And fine details like the figure’s hair, the sandal on her foot, and the eagle’s plumage, are crisp and clear. All of this is important to collectors.

It’s not surprising, then, that when it came up for auction in January 2008, this coin inspired fierce competition amongst bidders. It sold for an astonishing $345,000.

4. 1804 Draped Bust Quarter – NGC MS 65

1804 Draped Bust Quarter – NGC MS 65

The 1804 is one of the rarest of what’s known as the “draped bust quarter”. The coin gets its name from the design on the obverse. This shows a bust of Lady Liberty, her hair loosely bound and falling down her back.

The design was first minted in 1796, but production was halted after the first year. It restarted in 1804 and continued until 1807.

The design of the coins changed slightly between the 1796 and later issues. For the first year of production, the reverse bore the design of a small eagle inside a wreath. That was changed to a large eagle for the 1804 and subsequent issues.

The 1796 and 1804 mintages were the lowest by a considerable margin, with 6,146 and 6,738 coins produced respectively. That compares to over 120,000 in 1805, and well over 200,000 in both 1806 and 1807.

Today, however, mint state versions of the 1804 coin are considerably rarer than the 1796 version. In 2011, when this MS 65 coin was last sold, the Numismatic Guaranty Company had certified 31 mint state 1796 quarters. That compared to only five mint state quarters from 1804.

Adding to its desirability was its excellent quality – two points clear of its nearest known rival.

So what did all that mean when it came under the auctioneer’s hammer? This coin sold for $345,000.

5. 1828 Capped Bust Quarter, Re-punched – NGC MS 67

1828 Capped Bust Quarter, Re-punched – NGC MS 67

Coins that are the results of accident or error are extremely unusual – and that makes them very valuable too. One such example is this 1828 capped bust quarter.

The process of making coins in 1828 was quite different to the way they’re made today. There was no heavy machinery to take the strain. Instead, the coins were produced by hand. And it was this process that led to the mistake which makes this coin so valuable.

The craftsman here originally mistook the coin for a 50 cent piece. He stamped it accordingly – and then realised his error. Trying to put it right, he stamped the correct 25 cent designation over the top. But look closely, and you can still see the remnants of the 50 underneath.

Add to this unusual error the fact that this coin is in excellent condition – graded mint state 67 – and it will clearly be an expensive purchase. But how much will it cost you?

Well, it last came to auction in November 2013. The hammer price then was $352,500. Now that’s what we call a costly mistake!

6. 1927-S Full Head Standing Liberty Quarter – MS 66

1927-S Full Head Standing Liberty Quarter – MS 66

So far, all the quarters we’ve looked at have dated from the 19th century. But 20th century examples can be valuable too – like this 1927-S full head standing Liberty.

The name comes from the design on the obverse. This bears a full-length portrait of Lady Liberty, apparently about to step out of the coin. The Full Head designation (FH) is applied to coins of good quality that have distinctive elements of the design.

The requirements are slightly different, depending on the age of the coin.

Coins dated between 1916 and 1917 are known as Type I. They must show a clear separation between the cords of Lady Liberty’s hair and her cap.

Coins like this one, dated between 1917 and 1930, must show three complete and distinct leaves on Liberty’s helmet. The bottom of the helmet must also be completely outlined. And Liberty’s ear hole should be clearly visible.

Generally speaking, FH coins command a premium over less well struck non-FH versions. But this does depend on their rarity. In some years – like 1916 – there about as many FH as non-FH standing Liberty quarters. As a result, there’s little difference in price between them.

The 1927-S coin, however, is hard to find in FH form. And it’s even more unusual to find it in a coin of this quality – mint state 66. This coin sold at auction in 2014 for $258,500.

7. 1839 Liberty Seated No Drapery Quarter – NGC PR 65

1839 Liberty Seated No Drapery Quarter – NGC PR 65

This coin is a veritable Holy Grail amongst coin collectors. It is believed to be the only surviving proof of the 1836 quarter featuring a seated “no drapery” Lady Liberty.

The design was engraved by Christian Gobrecht and made its first appearance on a quarter in 1838. At that time, it had already been in use for two years on the silver dollar.

The design varied slightly between the earliest quarters and those dating from 1841 onwards. In the earlier versions, there was no drapery beneath Lady Liberty’s left elbow. That’s why this coin carries the description “no drapery”.

The design itself isn’t particularly rare. Lots of coins can be found in circulated grades.

But if you’re looking for a mint state coin, that’s a different matter. And as for a proof? This seems to be the only one. Even more excitingly, it’s in wonderful condition – what collectors sometimes refer to as “gem”.

It’s recorded as coming up for public sale only twice in its history. The first time was in 1945, the second in 2008. On the latter occasion, it achieved the astonishing sale price of $517,500.

8. 1901-S Barber Quarter PCGS MS 68+

1901-S Barber Quarter PCGS MS 68+

The seated Lady Liberty design that had been in use for many years was not a favorite with everyone. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, there were increasing calls for it to be replaced.

The new coins were designed by the Mint’s chief engraver, Charles E Barber. They were produced in denominations of dimes, quarters and 50 cents and are known to this day as Barber coins.

Most are not rare, but there are some exceptions. One of these is the 1901-S Barber quarter.

Although there are about 2,000 of these coins still in existence, finding better quality examples is far harder.

There are only about 80 surviving coins graded 60 or higher. And if you’re looking for the very best quality – 65 or above – pickings are even slimmer. Only around 25 coins call into this category.

As a result, this mint state 68+ Barber quarter is a highly sought-after find. It sold in 2010 for $327,750.

9. 1827/3/2 Capped Bust Quarter, PCGS PR 66+ Cameo

182732 Capped Bust Quarter, PCGS PR 66+ Cameo

You might be wondering about the strange date of this coin. What could 1827/3/2 possibly mean? Well, it’s not a reference to the day and month. Instead, it refers to the die used in the making of this coin.

The die was originally used to produced 1822 coins. The final two was then overpunched with a 3 for coins made the following year. And in 1827, all four digits were re-punched, allowing the die to be used again for that year’s coinage.

This particular coin is the finest known example of that year. Only nine specimens graded 63 and above are known to exist. This one is rated 66+ by the Professional Coin Grading Service.

It’s also designated a cameo. That means that both sides of the coin show clear contrasts between the flat and raised parts of the design. The flat sections, known as fields, are mirrored, while the raised parts are “frosted”. Frosting refers to the grainer finish on these parts of the coin.

The coin had a guide price of between $375,000 and $575,000 when it last went to auction in May 2015. In the event, it sold for a massive $705,000.

The Rarest of the Rare

That brings us to the end of our look at nine of the most valuable quarters in existence. We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about them. They’re beautiful objects in their own right. But even more excitingly, they have much to tell us about the world in which they were made.

So next time you’re clearing out that old drawer and find some dusty coins, take a closer look! You might just be holding a piece of history in your hand.

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