The US quarter is one of several denominations of US currency formerly issued with 90% silver content. The quarter is not only one of the few to feature 90% silver in the past, it is also one of the oldest denominations from the mint. First issued in 1792, the coin entered regular annual production in 1796 and has been issued every year by the United States Mint since 1831 with varying designs. From 1838 to 1964, US quarters were available with 90% silver and featured a wide range of designs. Now is your chance to learn about the history of 90% silver quarters from the United States Mint.
The first-ever strike of a US Quarter is recorded as the 1792 Wright Quarter. Only two versions of this specimen are known to exist and the coins were struck in copper by the original Philadelphia Mint. The first regularly issued US quarter was the Draped Bust design issued from 1796 to 1807. From 1815 to 1838, the Capped Bust design was released by the United States Mint on the US quarter. Both the Draped Bust and Capped Bust coins had 89.2% silver and 10.8% copper. It wasn’t until the 1838 introduction of the popular Standing Liberty Quarter that the US quarter was stabilized at 90% silver and 10% copper.
The Capped Bust Quarter design was issued by the US Mint from 1815 to 1829 and 1831 to 1838. In that final year, the design was replaced with the new Seated Liberty Quarter. This was the first coin in the US quarter range to feature 90% silver content and 10% copper. Each coin had .18084 Troy oz of actual silver content. The designs in this series included:
Seated Liberty was available from 1838 to 1891, making it the second-longest-running design in the denomination’s history behind the Washington Quarter. Seated Liberty Quarters dated 1838-1865 has only the nation of issue and denomination on the reverse. From 1866-1891, the national motto “In God We Trust” also features on the reverse.
The Barber Coinage is a term that refers to the broader dime, quarter, and half dollar releases from the United States Mint between 1892 and 1916. These coins all shared the same obverse design, with a common reverse to the quarter and half dollar. The images on the Barber Quarter were designed by Charles E. Barber, the 6th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. Designs on the Barber Quarter include:
The shortest-lived design in the history of the US quarter was also the most controversial image to feature on the coins. Designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil in 1916, Standing Liberty was featured on the quarters from 1916 to 1930. Designs in this series feature:
MacNeil’s design was controversial from the start as his original 1916 design showed Liberty in a loose robe with one breast exposed. Later revisions placed a chest plate of armor on Liberty’s frame, followed by chain mail armor. The design was widely viewed as a commentary on World War I as the conflict was raging in Europe in 1916 and the United States remained neutral at that time. The fact Liberty looked east with her shield indicated America was ready to defend itself, but the olive branch symbolized its desire to remain at peace.
The Standing Liberty Quarter was available for just 14 years before its lack of popularity led to its suspension. The design was last struck in 1930 and no new quarters were issued by the US Mint in 1931. In 1932, the Standing Liberty Quarter was permanently replaced by the Washington Quarter design. Created by John Flanagan, the designs included:
The Washington Quarter is the longest-running design in the history of the US quarter and has been struck on the coin every year since 1932. President Washington was chosen to feature on the US quarter in honor of the 200th anniversary of his birthday. From 1932 to 1964, the Washington Quarter featured 90% silver content. As of 1965, the Washington Quarter is still in production but with the modern cupro-nickel alloy. The only presidential bust in use on a US coin longer than Washington’s is Abraham Lincoln’s bust that has been on the US penny since 1909.
90% silver quarters are available from JM Bullion varying quantities and conditions as an affordable investment option. Please direct your questions about these coins to JM Bullion at 800-276-6508, online via our live chat, and through our email address.