By 1887, the Seated Liberty quarter had been around for almost half a century. This prompted U.S. Mint Director James Kimball to push for a new design. An open competition was held but the entries were not inspiring. Thus, the mint’s Chief Engraver, Charles E. Barber, was given the job of designing the new coin.

The Barber Quarter that was eventually adopted in 1892 featured a cameo-like profile of Lady Liberty that was similar to the one that had been used on the Morgan silver dollar in 1878, except it’s facing to the right. On her head sat the ever-popular Liberty cap and a laurel wreath. The words "In God We Trust" appeared at the top of the coin above her head, while the coin’s year was placed at its bottom.

The quarter’s reverse reproduced the Great Seal of the United States, and in the eagle’s beak was a ribbon with the words "E Pluribus Unum" on it. Both sides of the Barber quarter featured 13 stars, one for each of the original colonies.

The first batch of 1892 Barber quarters didn't stack properly due to problems with the coin’s relief. For collectors, this means that there are two types of 1892 Barbers to seek out. The way to tell the difference is to look on the coin’s reverse. In some coins, Type 1, the eagle's left wing only partially covers the letter "E" in "United." In Type II quarters, the eagle's wing covers most of the letter "E." In a third type of Barber from 1900 and later, the eagle's wing extends past the "E."

Millions of Barber quarters a year were produced between 1892 and 1916, so most are easy to find and affordable, making them a favorite of beginning coin collectors. The exceptions are the Barbers minted in San Francisco in 1896, 1901, and 1913.


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