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: $4.75 (4/22/2021)
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: 8/30/2019

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

1878 25C MS
  GVGFVFXF505355586061626364656667686970
Base $ 28.00 32.00 35.00 55.00 70.00 160 175 225 265 315 360 390 645 975 2900 3800 - - - -
$ - - - - 280 - - - - 1250 - 4500 - -

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The prices listed in the various NGC Price and Value Guides are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. Prices provided are averages, not specific prices for individual coins. Further, because these prices are only updated from time to time, they do not reflect short term pricing trends, which are quite common and are often quite dramatic, given the volatile nature of the collectible coin marketplace. This is especially true for rare coins, where there are fewer sales and greater variations in sale prices. For all of these reasons, the prices in these guides are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and factors that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and — when appropriate — expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Guides. By using the NGC Guides, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the Guides.

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 125
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: 4/20/2021 1878 25C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970Total
Base3-2253733118-918142084----120
-----------------------
-------------1---1----2
-----------------------
Total3-2253733118-919142085----122
 2%-2%2%4%2%6%2%2%1%15%-7%16%11%16%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
9310612314721536148258465771778384192310761483215529414148625397111524521185
000000482584657717783841923107614832155294141486253971100
0000005196126747427998679531170170223893259471972151124500
1878 25C MS
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base81941021271472954125175976487197648389251193182525013423508578921238219618
859611013319633444754361467173478886710141403205028083977602093881479420599
000000447543614671734788867101414032050280839776020938800
0000004825706316957498138961103161422753115453169561088500
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: AU 58
Points: 719
Owner: jlmjjhac
 
Grade: MS 61 PL
Points: 0
Owner: CT72
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

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NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The auction prices realized listed in the NGC Auction Central are compiled from a number of independent, third party sources in the numismatic community which NGC believes to be reliable. The auction data listed by NGC may occasionally contain typographical or input errors that can result in incorrect prices realized appearing on the NGC website. Therefore, the prices realized listed in NGC Auction Central are designed to serve merely as one of many measures and facts that coin buyers and sellers can use in determining coin values. These prices are not intended, and should not be relied upon, to replace the due diligence and – when appropriate – expert consultation that coin buyers and sellers should undertake when entering into a coin transaction. As such, NGC disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in the NGC Auction Central. By using the NGC Auction Central, the user agrees that neither NGC nor any of its affiliates, shareholders, officers, employees or agents shall have any liability for any loss or damage of any kind, including without limitation any loss arising from reliance on the information contained in the NGC Auction Central.