Early QuartersThe quarter dollar was one of the original denominations established under the Coinage Act of 1792. The first production would not take place until four years later, following the introduction of the other silver coinage authorized.
Although the quarter dollar holds a place of importance within the current coinage system, in the early days of the United States, it was less essential. Smaller denominations were used for everyday commerce, while larger ones were requested by silver depositors.
The Draped Bust Quarter was introduced in 1796 and featured a design by Robert Scot. The obverse contained an image of Liberty with hair lightly bound and bust partially draped. For the first year of issue, the reverse design featured an eagle positioned within a wreath.
After this one year of production, the denomination would not be struck again until 1804. At this time, a new reverse design was adopted containing a heraldic eagle. This made the previous issue, a rare one-year type coin. Production with the new design would take place each year from 1804 to 1807, representing the duration of this original series.
The Capped Bust Quarter would be introduced in 1815, containing a new rendition of Liberty designed by John Reich. The reverse design would contain an eagle with a shield at its breast, holding an olive branch and arrows in its talons.
This series is also considered in two parts. For the initial years from 1815 to 1828, the coins were struck in 89.24% silver and 10.76% copper and had a diameter of 27 mm. After the Mint adopted better coining equipment, new specifications were adopted for used from 1831 to 1838. These coins were struck in 90% silver and 10% copper, with a diameter of 27 mm.
These series of early quarters hold an important place within the numismatic history of America and include noted rarities. Assembling a collection or studying the series can be a rewarding experience.