Coin Specifications

Category: Seated Liberty Quarters (1838-1891)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 2,260,800
Obverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Reverse Designer: Christian Gobrecht
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 6.2500g
ASW: 0.1808oz
Melt Value: $3.27 (1/19/2020)
Diameter: 24.3mm
Edge: Reeded
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1878 25C MS obverse 1878 25C MS reverse
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Description & Analysis

The mintage of quarter dollars fell drastically during 1878 over that of the previous two years. It has become a numismatic myth perpetuated by countless writers that the mints were too busy coining Morgan Dollars to strike many fractional silver coins during 1878-90, but this is completely wrong. The drastic cutback in coining was due to a law passed July 22, 1876 limiting the total value of fractional silver and fractional notes in circulation to 50 million dollars. The large mintages of 1876-77 went a long way toward retiring the notes and replacing them with coin, but another event that occurred around the same time caused the legal limit to be achieved sooner than anticipated.

With the price of silver falling during the 1870s, not only did federal paper currency achieve value parity with silver coins, but millions of silver pieces that had disappeared after 1861 rapidly returned to domestic circulation starting in the fall of 1876. Some of these coins had been hoarded, but the vast majority had been circulating in Canada and Latin America, where a lack of local coinage had made them welcome. Now that their face value in the USA exceeding their bullion value, they returned home and quickly became a nuisance in commerce. Fractional silver had a legal tender limit of five dollars in any one transaction and could be refused above that amount. These older coins, now well worn, were neither needed nor wanted by banks and often had to be sold at bullion value to brokers. Their numbers, combined with the huge new coinages of 1876-77, also exceeded the $50 million limit imposed by the 1876 legislation, and the Treasury actually began withdrawing coins. Naturally, this brought production of new pieces to a near standstill that, for the quarter dollar, lasted through 1890.

1878(P) quarters are noticeably scarcer in circulated grades than those of the preceding two years. Mint State pieces are also in limited supply. Larry Briggs wrote that they were "probably melted to make the first year silver dollar." This is a repetition of the old myth about the mint halting fractional silver production to make silver dollars. It is possible that some 1878(P) were withheld from release and destroyed, but the silver for dollars was purchased under an entirely separate program.

GRADE SUMMARY

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Price Guide

Last Updated: 1/3/2020

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1878 25C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 28.00 32.00 44.00 55.00 70.00 155 175 225 275 290 360 390 520 750 2900 3800 - - - -
$ - - - - 280 - - - - 1250 - 4500 - -

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Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 124
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 60
High Grade: 66

The chart showing PrAg series, G series, VG series, F series, VF series, 40 series, 45 series, 50 series, 53 series, 55 series, 58 series, 60 series, 61 series, 62 series, 63 series, 64 series, 65 series, 66 series.
NGC CENSUS DETAIL Last Updated: 1/14/2020 1878 25C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base2-2252833118-918142084----119
-----------------------
-----------------1----1
-----------------------
Total2-2252833118-918142085----120
 2 %-2 %2 %4 %2 %7 %3 %3 %1 %15 %-8 %15 %12 %17 %7 %4 %---- 
1878 25C MS PL
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base------------13-1------5
-----------------------
-----------------------
-----------------------
Total------------13-1------5
 ------------20 %60 %-20 %------ 

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1878 25C MS PL
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base891021151391633204455566406927688158939831264192226233577529181771278020176
931061231472153614825846577177838419231076148321552941414862539711152450
000000482584657717783841923107614832155294141486253971100
0000005196126747427998679531170170223893259471972151124500
1878 25C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base81941021271472954125175976487197648389251193182525013423508578921238219618
85961101331963344475436146717347888671014140320502808397760209388147940
000000447543614671734788867101414032050280839776020938800
0000004825706316957498138961103161422753115453169561088500
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 61 PL
Points: 0
Owner: CT72
 
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