Description and Analysis

Seated Liberty Quarters
1861 25C MS

Description & Analysis

The 1861 Philadelphia Mint quarter dollar is among the most common issues of this long series across all grades. It benefited from both a large mintage and a drastic change in American commerce brought on by the Civil War that broke out the same year. To finance this undertaking the Treasury Department began issuing paper currency that was not immediately redeemable in hard money. This prompted banks to suspend specie (coin) payments at the end of the year, and by the spring of 1862 nearly all gold and silver coinage had disappeared from general circulation. Only the inflated economy of the Far West did hard money survive unmolested, as paper money of any kind was flatly refused.

Much of 1861's silver coinage was hoarded as soon as it was made, and this led to an unusually high survival rate at or near Mint State. Most examples are well struck and lustrous, and this date has been a favorite of type collectors for generations.

All 1861(P) quarters were coined with the Type 2 obverse (six vertical lines above the scroll), and most have the Type 2 reverse (the eagle's eyeball is convex, or raised). A very small number have the old Type 1 reverse, but this rarity seems to be of interest solely to series specialists.