Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Quarters (1838-1891)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 15,210,020
Catalog: KM-78
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 6.2200g
ASW: 0.1800oz
Melt Value: $2.57 (11/27/2015)
Diameter: 24.3mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1853 ARROWS & RAYS 25C MS obverse 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 25C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

For several years leading up to 1853, few U.S. silver coins remained in circulation, because they were worth more melted than in their coined form. The root cause for this was the immense discoveries of gold in California that lowered the market price of gold in terms of silver. As Walter Breen describes in the Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, this 'eventually (led) to a point where bullion dealers found they could make 'endless chain' profits by melting down silver coins bought for face value and reselling the silver. All of the mints' output of silver vanished into hoarders' hands, and most of it went to bullion dealers, less and less silver reached the Mint for coinage, reflected in the diminishing mintages of 1850-52.'

The Act of February 21, 1853, reduced the weight of silver coins to a figure that would eliminate bullion dealers' profits and thus discourage further melting. The Act authorized the coinage of quarters at 96 grains, compared with the former 103 1/8 grains. Mint Director George Eckert realized that the new coins had to have an identifying mark to distinguish them from earlier ones. For the quarter (and half dollar as well), he placed arrows at each side of the date, with rays behind the eagle. (The dimes and half dimes included only the arrows.) This design format (for the quarters and half dollars) lasted only one year, with a reminder of the reduced weight carried on through 1855 in the form of arrowheads only. More than 15 million quarters were struck of the Arrows and Rays design. They were a smashing success. One Philadelphia paper reported that the Mint had 'fully overcome the complaint among the small dealers of a want of change.' The new coins served their purpose excellently. For the first time since the establishment of the Mint in 1793, the nation had an adequate supply of fractional coins of uniform quality.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/11/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

Base $ 30.00 35.00 50.00 75.00 190 385 435 525 850 1300 1600 2650 5100 22500 40000 89000 - - -
$ - - 475 575 925 - 1900 3250 6000 - - - -

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Total Graded: 1300
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 53
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
1/8/2003 PCGS MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2003, Orlando, FL. (FUN) Signature Sale #308, 308/Lot# 6671 $3,565.00
5/31/2004 NGC MS 63   Goldberg May 31 - June 2, 2004 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 25/Lot# 652 $2,760.00
7/21/2004 NGC AU 55   Teletrade Auction 1912, 1912/Lot# 1415 $176.00
5/27/2012 PCGS MS 64   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 19995/Lot# 1029 $3,159.00
2/10/2013 NGC XF 45   Heritage Auctions Internet Coin Auction Session(2), 131308/Lot# 28815 $152.75
8/30/2013 PCGS AU 50   Stack's Bowers The September 2013 Philadelphia Auction, 195/Lot# 4407 $675.63
3/9/2014 PCGS Genuine VF   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/09/2014, 167/Lot# 117855 $31.05
5/4/2014 PCGS AU 55   David Lawrence Rare Coins Internet Auction # 802, 811/Lot# 83 $526.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1853 ARROWS & RAYS 25C MS
1853 ARROWS & RAYS 25C MS Prooflike
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 62
Points: 1911
Owner: jhd
Grade: MS 62
Points: 1911
Owner: JTO
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