For Whitman, I am putting the finishing touches on
A Guide Book of Liberty Seated Coins. Here are a few
paragraphs about the distribution of quarter dollars:
On Sept. 13, 1838, 20 of the new Seated Liberty quarter dollars were
sent by U.S. Mint Director Robert Maskell Patterson to Secretary of the
Treasury Levi Woodbury. Approval was granted, and minting
for circulation began Sept. 29.
Quarter dollars were readily accepted in commerce, but were not seen
as often as were dimes and half dollars. More plentiful through the
end of the 1850s were Spanish-American 2-real or “two bit” coins that
circulated for the value of 25 cents.
In 1849, the advent of large quantities of gold from California
disturbed the traditional value ratio between silver and gold, and
silver bullion rose slightly in value on international markets. This
caused quarter dollars and other silver coins to be withdrawn from
circulation to be hoarded or to be melted.
To remedy the situation, the Act of Feb. 21, 1853, lowered the
amount of silver in Seated Liberty coins from the half dime to the
half dollar (but not the dollar).
The first quarter dollars under the new weight standard were
released on April 1, 1853. The new coins were widely reported upon in
By early 1862, the outcome of the Civil War was uncertain. To help
fund government operations, the Treasury Department authorized legal
tender notes — paper money with face values from $1 to $1,000 that
were not redeemable at par in gold or silver coins. Concerned about
the economy, the public hoarded these coins. By early summer 1862 all
silver coins were gone from circulation. It was thought, after the
Civil War ended in April 1865, that hoarded silver coins would come
out of hiding. That did not happen. Citizens remained concerned about
the finances of the government.
After April 20, 1876, silver coins and legal tender notes were
exchangeable at par. A flood of long-stored silver coins came on the
market. The result was a glut of silver that reduced the numbers of
silver coins to be newly minted, beginning in 1879.
After Barber quarter dollars were introduced in 1892, Seated Liberty
quarter dollars remained in circulation. By the 1930s when coin
collecting became widely popular, such pieces remaining in commerce
were heavily worn.
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