Artist Gilbert Stuart, who is perhaps best known today for his portrait of George Washington on the one-dollar bill, was hired to create a likeness of Lady Liberty for use on a variety of coins, including the quarter. His model was a busty Philadelphia socialite named Ann Willing Bingham, and she appeared first on the Draped Bust dollar that was issued in 1795. It replaced the widely ridiculed Flowing Hair dollar of 1794.

Robert Scot, the mint’s chief engraver, was tasked to transfer Stuart’s sketch onto quarters and other coins. By all accounts, Scot did a poor job and Stuart was disappointed with the result. But in 1796, the nation had its first 25-cent piece. Only 6,146 quarters were minted that year, making this one of the most prized U.S. coins for collectors.

The so-called Draped Bust Quarters featured basically the same Lady Liberty on its obverse as the silver dollars, dimes, and half dimes from the period. Like those dimes and half dimes, these early quarters carried no mark stating their value—it was not until 1804 that "25c" was added to the coin’s reverse.

Demand for the coin was low because Spanish two-reale coins circulated widely and were worth the same as a quarter, even though they were lighter and contained less silver.

After that first 1796 minting, no quarters were struck again until 1804, when 6,738 quarters with a new Heraldic Eagle reverse were coined. This quarter typo featured 13 stars on its obverse, one for each of the original 13 colonies (the 1796 quarter had 15 stars, one for each state in the union at that time).

Greater numbers of Draped Bust Quarters were minted from 1805 to 1807. The 1806 quarters in which the "6" in 1806 has been struck on top of a "5" in 1805 is particularly prized. But people in the U.S. at the dawn of the 19th century still preferred two-reale coins for commerce—quarters were actually hoarded because of their higher silver content.

Production of quarters ceased until 1815, when the Capped Bust Quarter was coined. John Reich took over the quarter’s design. For the obverse, he created a new Lady Liberty weari...

This Capped Bust design lasted until 1831 (although coins were not minted every year), when William Kneass reduced the coin’s diameter to 24.3 millimeters, the size of the quarters we use today. At the behest of mint director Samuel Moore, Kneass also removed the motto on its reverse—Moore believed "E Pluribus Unum" was redundant to the words "United States," an opinion that prevailed until the Barber quarters were introduced in 1892.

Through 1838, hundreds of thousands of Capped Bust coins were struck, with almost 2 million coined in 1835. That’s one reason why prices for these quarters are modest compared to the ones that preceded them.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Legendary Coins and Currency

Legendary Coins and Currency

This online exhibition from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is a great way to get an overview… [read review or visit site]

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Society of U.S. Pattern Collectors

Home to the Society of U.S. Pattern collectors, this well-organized site provides in-depth information on pattern c… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

1807 Draped Bust Silver Quarter Anacs Vf20 *old Holder 1818 Capped Bust Quarter High Grade Xf +1831 Capped Bust Quarter 25c Large Letters Pcgs Xf401837 Capped Bust Silver Quarter. Gem Bu++ Lustrous Toning. Eye Catcher 1805 Draped Bust Quarter, Solid Vg++/f Scarce Early Quarter, ** Free Shipping!1835 Capped Bust Quarter, Very Scarce Choice Au++ Early Silver, * Free Shipping!1828 U.s. Capped Bust 25c 25 Cent Quarter Coin You Grade No Reserve1838 25c Capped Bust Quarter, B1, Browning 1, Ngc, Xf, Ef, #1221825/4 Capped Bust Quarter Average Circulated Condition 25c Silver(jt033)1820 Capped Bust Silver 25 Cents Fine Scarce!Stunning 1805 Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle Silver Quarter Graded Au55 By Pcgs Capped Bust 25 Cents 1815 No Reserve1834 Capped Bust Quarter Pcgs Vg Details Free Shipping ! Look!Amazing 1828 Capped Bust Silver Quarter Graded Au55 By Pcgs Stunning CoinAwesome 1807 Draped Bust Silver Dime Graded Au55 By Pcgs A Stunning Beauty1825 U.s. Capped Bust 25c 25 Cent Quarter Coin You Grade No Reserve1815 Capped Bust Quarter-- Great Coin With Very Good Details--no Reserve! #501831 Capped Bust U.s. Silver Quarter You Grade No Reserve1837 Capped Bust Quarter Dollar 25c **vf+** Us Coin "rare"1818 Capped Bust U.s. Silver Quarter You Grade No ReserveNrfs! 1838 P Capped Bust 90% Silver Quarter Dollar Coin. Full Liberty!"1818", Capped Bust Quarter, Full,"date", And Almost Full, "liberty". Scratched.1819 Vg Capped Bust Quarter Very Good 25c Collectible Rare Early 90% Silver CoinCapped Bust 25 Cents 1818 No Reserve "1821",capped Bust Quarter, Fullclear,"date".usual Wear For A Circulated,"nice"1837 25c Bust Quarter1835 Capped Bust Silver Quarter - Estate Find"1818", Capped Bust Qyaurter, "full Date", (holed), Partial, "liberty".1836 Capped Bust Silver 25 Cents Good Obverse Die Break Mint Error1835 Capped Bust U.s. Silver Quarter You Grade No Reserve1821 Capped Bust Quarter Dollar 90% Silver 1834 25c Browning Capped Bust Quarter Dollar # 51732 Bust Half Dimes: 1830 & 1835 1/2 10c1835 Capped Bust U.s. 1/2 Dime Nice Coin You Grade No Reserve1832 Capped Bust Silver 25 Cents Extremely Fine1836 Capped Bust Quarter - Planchet Flaw - Vg+Rare-date, "1822", Capped Bust Quarter, Readable, "date", Scratches On Reverse.Nice Original Toned Very Fine Vf Detail Rare 1819 Capped Bust 25c Silver Quarter