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: 6.22g
ASW: 0.18oz
Melt Value: $3.21 (10/25/2016)
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

Early in 1853 Congress finally passed legislation lowering the weights of the nation's silver coins from half dime through half dollar, leaving the silver dollar at its existing standard and condemning it to non-circulation. This permitted the fractional coins to remain unmolested in commerce, as they no longer were profitable to export and melt.

To mark this change, opposed arrowheads were placed at either side of the date, and a glory of rays was added around the eagle on the half dollar and quarter dollar. These distinguishing marks alerted any recipients that such coins were of the new, lower weight. They also facilitated withdrawal of the new coins, should the old standard ever be restored.

Since the need to replace the heavier coins was so urgent, record numbers of fractional silver issues were minted in 1853, so many in fact that coin dealers specifically excluded this date from their want lists for the next 80 years. The 1853 quarter dollar with arrows and rays is thus a very common coin across all grades. Mint State survivors are fairly plentiful, and even gems are available with some regularity.

Over 100 dies each were prepared for both obverse and reverse of this large production, but the only variety of particular interest is the 1853/54 overdate. Though seemingly illogical, this old date over new date is explained by the fact that dies for the new year's coinage were being prepared during the final quarter of 1853, and the die sinker easily could have overpunched an 1853 dated die if one were needed immediately. It has also been proposed by researchers that the Mint prepared new master hubs for the arrows & rays coinage, as the great number of dies needed justified this extra effort to avoid hand punching these elements into each working die. The resulting obverse hub would have included the date, as well, and a dual punching of 1853-dated and 1854-dated hubs could also produce this overdate oddity.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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Base $ 30.00 40.00 55.00 80.00 195 370 455 550 875 1125 1225 1550 2450 4250 16000 37000 65000 - - -
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Total Graded: 1363
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
2/23/2009 NGC AU 50   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 339, 345/Lot# 578 $253.00
1/6/2010 NGC MS 67   Heritage Auctions 2010 January Orlando, FL FUN US Coin Auction #1136, 1136/Lot# 2511 $46,000.00
1/30/2011 PCGS MS 64   Goldberg January 30 - February 3, 2011 The Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 62/Lot# 1357 $3,680.00
2/28/2012 PCGS MS 66   Stack's Bowers The March 2012 Baltimore Auction, 135/Lot# 4073 $27,600.00
5/27/2012 PCGS MS 64   Bonhams Coins and Medals, 19995/Lot# 1029 $3,159.00
6/24/2012 NGC Details AU Details  Teletrade Auction 3299, 3299/Lot# 1551 $42.00
12/5/2013 NGC MS 63   Heritage Auctions 2013 December 5 - 8 US Coins Signature Auction - Houston Session(4), 1192/Lot# 4616 $1,997.50
3/9/2014 PCGS Genuine VF   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 03/09/2014, 167/Lot# 117855 $31.05

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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