Barber quarters are a must-have for coin collectors all over the world. An iconic coin series designed by Charles Barber and produced for 25 years in total, between 1892 and 1916.
Also known as the Liberty Head quarters, Barber quarters have several stand-out years including 1896, 1901, 1909, and 1913. While quarters in good to fine condition may not fetch a high price, those in mint condition can fetch hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on year and mint mark.
Today, we will introduce you to the Barber quarter series, provide a comprehensive value chart, list the top 8 most valuable Barber quarters and help you to identify these frequently expensive coins. We will also answer some key FAQs.
Barber Quarter Background
Barber quarter dollars were produced between 1892 and 1916. Their iconic design was created by Charles E. Barber. Edward Leech, the director of the United States Mint, set up a competition for the design of the new coinage. Ironically, due to lack of monetary incentive, the competition did not receive any suitable entries. Leech therefore commissioned Barber, the chief engraver of the US Mint at the time, to redesign the quarter, specifically requesting a change from a seated Liberty to the head of Liberty on the obverse side. Barber quarters are therefore also known as Liberty Head quarters.
Coin Design And Specifications
The design of the Barber quarter is very similar to the other Barber dimes and half-dollars of the era. The obverse features the head of Miss Liberty, facing to the right, in the iconic Phrygian cap. She has a laurel wreath atop her head, and a band inscribed with the word “liberty”. To either side of her head are stars symbolising the states at the time: 6 stars to her left and 7 to her right. Below Liberty’s head is the date the quarter was produced, and above are the words “in god we trust”.
The reverse of the Barber quarter displays a bald eagle with an olive branch clutched in one talon and arrows clutched in the other. The eagle carries a heraldic shield and a ribbon in its bill with the motto “E. pluribus unum” inscribed on it. Surrounding the eagle are the words “Unites States of America” and “quarter dollar”. While some Barber quarters feature smaller depictions of the eagle on the reverse, others feature larger eagles.
This coin weighs 6.3 grams, has a diameter of 24.3 millimetres and a reeded edge. It is composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.
Barber Quarter Mint Marks
The mint mark on a Barber quarter can be found directly below the eagle’s tail feathers on the reverse side. There were 4 mints responsible for striking the Barber quarter between 1892 and 1916:
- O mint mark – Barber quarters with the O mint mark were minted in New Orleans. This mint struck quarters between 1892 and 1909 at a mintage of around 2 to 3 million annually. A key year in which the Barber quarter had a particularly low mintage was 1909 when only 712,000 quarters were minted. This makes 1909 Barber quarters scarce and hence more valuable.
- S mint mark – Barber quarters with the S mint mark were minted in San Francisco. Quarters were minted here in all years between 1892 and 1916 but the mintage was sporadic so San Francisco quarters tend to be the most valuable of all mintmarks. 1913 is a notable year – only 40,000 quarters were minted in San Francisco this year, making the 1913 Barber quarter rare and valuable.
- D mint mark – Barber quarters with the D mint mark were minted in Denver, Colorado. This mint began to strike coins from 1906 until 1916, but did not produce any quarters in 1912. A notable date for the Denver Barber quarters is 1911 when only 933,000 quarters were struck making this a rare and valuable coin in the series.
- No mint mark – Barber quarters without a mint mark were produced in the Philadelphia mint. This mint produced more than 159 million quarters in total between 1892 and 1916. A particularly rare and highly valuable Philadelphia quarter is the 1913 Barber quarter which had a very low mintage – only 484,000 coins.
Most Common Barber Quarter Errors
Some of the more common Barber quarter errors include different hub variety errors, doubled and tripled dies, re-punched mint marks, and re-punched and misplaced dates.
An example of one of the more common different hub variety errors is the 1892 Obverse Type I error whereby the definition on Miss Liberty’s ear is missing i.e. she appears to have no cartilage!
One of the more notable doubled die errors (D/D) is the 1916 D/D quarter in which a larger “D” has been printed over a smaller “D”.
The auction record for a 1896-S Barber quarter with two reverse die errors was $96,000 in 2020! If you think this was a lot, the overall auction record for an error Barber quarter, and in fact for all Barber quarters ever auctioned so far was $172,500 in 2005! The error in question was pretty severe obverse die crack.
Errors can raise the value of Barber quarters considerably, especially when the coin is in excellent condition. Grade and condition are vital components which influence a coin’s value.
Barber Quarter Values & Prices By Issue
Let’s take a closer look at the average value of Barber quarters based on year produced, mintmark, and condition. Please bear in mind that values are subject to continuous change depending on the coin collecting market, supply and demand, and individual sellers. The prices stated here are accurate at the time of writing, based on the USA Coin Book. Prices are in USD. The most notable and valuable versions of the coin are highlighted in bold.
Barber Quarter Value Chart
|Year and Mint Mark||Good / $||Fine / $||Extremely Fine / $||Uncirculated (MS63) / $|
Top 8 Most Valuable Barber Quarters
As can be seen when viewing the Barber quarter value chart, there are some stand-out dates and mint marks. The majority of the time, quarters with an S mint mark are the most valuable version during most years. For example, the most valuable Barber quarters from 1899, 1908, 1914, 1900, 1893 and 1905 all bear the S mint mark. The most valuable 1904 Barber quarter is that which carries the New Orleans mint mark because San Francisco did not mint any quarters during that year. The most valuable 1905 quarter is either that with the O or S mint mark, their average values are comparable.
Among the most valuable Barber quarters are the top notable years and mint marks for this coin:
Here, we have assembled the top 8 most valuable Barber quarters of all time (so far!) which have sold for top dollar at auction. All these coins sold for over $72,000 USD!
Grade, rarity, mint mark, and provenance all have a significant effect on the value of an individual coin. Often age is a factor too although low mintage generally takes precedence over age when talking about coins within the Barber series.
1. 1901-S 25C, MS68
First up is an almost legendary Barber quarter which sold for an astounding $550,000 in 1990! Part of it’s legendary status is the fact there is a lack of information about it and back in the early 90s is was not common practice to digitise auction listings.
This 1901-S Barber quarter was graded extremely high at MS68. Superior Galleries were the auction organisers. There is only one known example of this coin with such a high grade.
2. 1913-S 25C, MS68
Next up, another Barber quarter in stunning MS68 condition. This 1913-S Barber quarter sold for a whopping $172,500 in 2005! The 1913-S is one of the rarer quarters in this series to get your hands on, alongside the renowned 1901-S and 1896-S varieties.
The low mintage (only 40,000 quarters) of the 1913 Barber quarters produced in San Francisco makes this a rare, prized piece. This record-breaking coin was also an error coin with a very noticeable die break error on the obverse. Its high grade is thanks to a complete luster, exquisite original coloration, and near-perfect overall condition.
3. 1911 25C, PR69
This fantastic example of a 1911 Proof Barber quarter sold in 2022 for $102,000! It is the only known 1911 proof quarter in such good condition – graded PR69. This particular coin is an example of a Deep Cameo 1911 proof quarter, an extremely rare occurrence in the 1911 Barber quarter series.
The incredible appeal, rarity, luster, contrast, and original condition makes it one of the most expensive and impressive proof coins to have come up in auction so far.
4. 1896-S 25C, MS66
The estimate for this 1896-S Barber quarter was somewhere between $50,000 and $60,000. This coin smashed expectations by reaching $96,000 in 2020 at auction! 1896 Barber quarters are well-known and sought after, particularly those minted in San Francisco due to a low mintage here (only around 188,000 coins during this year!).
The pristine MS66 grade was granted due to mint luster, iridescence, exquisite strike and outstanding preservation, thus giving it lovely Gem status.
5. 1899 25C, PR69
Next up another proof coin from 1899 which fetched $90,000 in 2020! Another Deep Cameo proof coin, this 1899 Barber quarter fulfils both top grade and rarity quotas. The strike was described as stunningly high contrast, with beautiful tinting, as if it left the mint just yesterday.
6. 1912 25C, PR69
The third and final proof coin on our list today, this 1912 Proof Barber quarter sold for $84,000 in 2021! Described as flawless, with a rich patina, cameo contrast, and top quality strike, it is no wonder this coin was so expensive.
Only 700 proof coins were struck in 1912, and very few have been found in such perfect condition, making this a rare and desirable coin for any collection.
7. 1896-O 25C, MS67
The second coin on our list today which was struck in 1896, a notable date for the Barber quarter series. This 1896-O Barber quarter was sold for $80,500 in 2007!
While the 1896-S Barber quarter is the star of the year, the 1896-O is incredibly hard to find in such excellent MS67 condition. All details maintain their boldness and contrast, with minimal flaws and damage on both sides of the coin, granting it Superb Gem status.
8. 1907-S 25C, MS68
Last but not least on our list today is the 1907-S Barber quarter which sold for $72,000 in 2020! It shocked everyone by smashing its estimated price of $20,000 to $25,000. This Superb Gem was recognised for its incredible iridescence and striking coloration.
In 1907, in the San Francisco mint, the mintage of Barber quarters was lower than most other years. This meant it entered extensively into circulation and therefore a 1907 Barber quarter in top condition is a truly rare find.
What is the Barber quarter melt value?
Due to the high (90%) silver content in these 25 cent coins, Barber quarters can be worth a reasonable amount in melt value. As of November 2022, the melt value of a Barber quarter is around $3.91. See here for up-to-date values.
What is the rarest Barber quarter?
Both the 1901-S and 1896-S Barber quarters are considered to be the rarest due to low mintage during these years. Proof coins in original condition are also commonly considered to be rare and valuable.
How do you evaluate Barber quarters?
Evaluating coins is best done through a coin expert. You can try contacting your local coin or antiques expert to see if they can help you with buying and selling Barber quarters. Experts will be able to value your coins for you, ensuring they receive the correct grade and therefore price. Alternatively, you can contact reputable experts online for an appraisal. For free methods of evaluating a coin, try coin collecting forums for help from fellow enthusiasts. Here you can post images of your coin, or search for your desired coin and get helpful advice.
How do you buy and sell Barber quarters?
Buying and selling can also be done through a coin expert or auction house. If you want to buy or sell collectible coins independently, try online auction sites such as eBay or Etsy. On eBay, you can filter your results by mint, year, grade, and certification. Official certification through reputable organisations such as PCGS is strongly recommended.
Ensure you only go for sellers with a good reputation and listings with plenty of information and detailed photos. If selling, make sure you include a lot of details about your coin – its condition, rarity, special features such as errors, and provenance if known. Don’t be afraid to contact sellers for additional information.