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    

1824/2 Bust Quarter 100% Orig No Cleaning Early Quarter Type Coin1834 Scarce! Capped Bust QuarterPcgs Vf 25 1806 25c Draped Bust Quarter1835 Capped Bust Quarter In Choice Xf/au Condition Holed Plugged 1831 Capped Bust Quarter Free Shipping1836 Capped Bust Quarter, Neat Obverse & Reverse Die Breaks, ** Free Shipping!1806 Draped Bust Quarter Dollar A Very Cool 25 Cent Piece! Great Type Set Coin!!1833 United States Capped Bust Half Dollar ( - Vf )1834 Liberty Capped Bust Quarter 25c1806 Draped Bust Quarter Fine ConditionU.s. 1806 Draped Bust Silver Quarter, Ag - G1831 B.5 Ll Capped Bust Quarter, Pcgs Xf40, Album Tone - David Kahn Rare Coins1834 Capped Bust Quarter - Early Type Coin - Vf - Old Cleaning & RetonedAnacs 1832 25c Cleaned Vf 20 Details 1833 25c Capped Bust Silver Quarter1836 Liberty Capped Bust Quarter 25c 1818 Capped Bust Quarter 25 Cents |very Fine, Orig, Nice No Reserve1836 High Grade Capped Bust Quarter From Big Collection1818 Rare Key Capped Bust Quarter From Big Collection1835 Reduced Size Capped Bust Quarter Fine1831 Capped Bust Quarter !!! Great Details !! Low Mintage 398,000 !!! Nice Coin1835 Capped Bust Quarter, Tough Denominational Issue! ** Free Shipping!1832 Capped Bust Quarter, Tough Early Date, ** Free Shipping!1805 Draped Bust Quarter - Ngc Slabbed Vg Details - Improperly Cleaned 1821 Bust Quarter1820 Capped Bust Silver Quarter Large Size1835 Capped Bust Quarter From Big Collection1831 Liberty Capped Bust Quarter 25c1831 Capped Bust Silver Quarter - Small Letters - Pcgs Au55 - 9688Ngc 1807 25c B-2 Ag 31838 Capped Bust Quarter * Ngc Vf25 * Rarely Seen @ Auction *1825/4 Capped Bust Quarter Large SizeRare-,"1818/5", Capped Bust Qusrter , You Can See The "5", Under The Last , "8"1835 Capped Bust Quarter, Tough Coin! ** Free Shipping!1818 Capped Bust Quarter1834 Capped Bust Quarter - Ngc Slabbed Au Details - Damaged, Cleaned 1818 Vg Quarter (full Liberty)1833 Capped Bust Quarter1831 Capped Bust Liberty Quarter Ag