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US Quarters

US Quarters – A Popular American Collectible

You may already know that the US quarter is one of the most popular coins with today's collectors. But did you also know it was one of the first denominations authorized by the US government in 1792?

It would be another four years before our young nation saw its first official quarters, though. The Draped Bust design debuted in 1796, and was issued until 1807. These pieces featured a portrait of Liberty with flowing hair on the obverse, while the reverse showed an eagle within a wreath. In 1804, the small eagle on the reverse gave way to the Heraldic Eagle design.

US Quarters take a break

No quarters were issued between 1807 and 1815. When the denomination resurfaced, it featured the Capped Bust design. Though similar to the earlier Draped Bust quarters, this design showed Liberty with a cap on her head.

The Capped Bust design graced US quarters until 1838, when it was replaced by the Liberty Seated design. These quarters (along with dimes, half dollars and dollars during a similar time frame) featured Liberty seated on a rock, holding a pole with a liberty cap perched on its end. This design continued through America's Civil War, until 1891.

The next year, our nation's silver coinage designs changed once again when quarters – along with dimes and half dollars – all adopted a Liberty Head motif. These US quarters became known as Barber quarters after their designer, Charles Barber, and witnessed America's modernization during the turn of the 20th century. They were issued until 1916, when Standing Liberty quarters – the final US Quarters to feature Liberty – debuted.

The beautiful Standing Liberty quarter design shows Liberty standing in a gateway with a branch in her right hand and a shield in her left. Even though it was well-received from the start, this US quarter caused a controversy in its very first year! Some people took offense to Liberty's gown – which draped, exposing her right breast. Due to the complaints, the design was modified partway through its second year, covering Liberty's chest in chain mail.

Modern quarters enter the scene

After the Standing Liberty quarter was discontinued in 1930, the denomination took a one-year hiatus. Then, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth in 1932, the US Mint issued what was intended to be a one-year-only commemorative honoring the first US President.

Instead, they created what is now one of the longest-running obverse designs of US coinage! Though the US quarter has been through some changes in recent years, George Washington still graces the obverse.

Washington quarters were issued in 90% silver until 1964, when the composition changed to copper-nickel clad. In 1975 and 1976, quarters bearing the dual dates 1776-1976 were struck to commemorate America's Bicentennial.

Big changes kick off the new millennium

n 1999, a groundbreaking coinage series kicked off – the Statehood quarters. Five different reverse designs were issued per year in the order of statehood. Then, in 2009, six additional designs were released honoring the District of Columbia and the 5 US territories in the order of territorial establishment.

In 2010, following the Statehood, D.C. & US Territories quarters, a new series launched. America's National Park quarters honor a national park or historic site at a rate of 5 designs per year, at approximately 10-week intervals, in the order of establishment as federally protected sites. The series is currently expected to end in 2021. Building a complete collection of both the Statehood and National Park quarters is something that many collectors enjoy doing. With a storied history and a wide variety of designs, it's no wonder that US Quarters are so popular!

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