US Coins

A top 1901-S Barber quarter will be re-offered in September sale

Two key-date 1901-S Barber quarter dollars will appeal to bidders who appreciate quality, but at different price levels, at Heritage’s Sept. 18 to 20 U.S. Coins Signature Auction.

The auctions at its new Dallas-area headquarters replace the firm’s sales originally set to accompany the September Long Beach Expo in California, which was canceled.

Collectors chasing titles and honors with their registry sets might find a 1901-S Barber quarter graded Mint State 67+ by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker to their liking. While not the lowest mintage of the Barber quarter dollar series — that title is held by the issue of 40,000 1913-S Barber quarters — the 1901-S quarter dollar is the key to the series with a modest mintage of 72,664 and a surprisingly low survival rate as most entered circulation and enjoyed long lives as tools of commerce.

This example emerged on the market when offered by Heritage at its June 2001 Long Beach auction, where it was presented as a single-coin lot, then-graded PCGS MS-67 in an era before “Plus” grading. It sold for $77,625. It was once part of a four-coin set with a dime, quarter dollar, half dollar and silver dollar obtained by a visitor to the San Francisco Mint and held in the family.

The 1901-S quarter dollar was subsequently offered at a 2005 Heritage auction for $149,500 and most recently presented in March at Stack’s Bowers Galleries’ final sale of the D. Brent Pogue Collection where it sold within its $150,000 to $200,000 estimate, realizing $180,000.

Heritage praises its bold strike, writing, “A simply extraordinary coin irrespective of date, the surfaces are intensely lustrous with a richly frosted texture. Swirls of dove-gray, silver, lilac-purple, and antique-golden patina intermingle over both sides.” It is among the very finest-known, bested only by one graded MS-68+ that sold for $327,750 more than a decade ago at a Bowers and Merena auction.

Quality within the grade

Still-discerning collectors of more modest budgets will find a 1901-S Barber quarter dollar graded Good 4 by PCGS and possessing a green CAC sticker of interest. It is housed in an old PCGS holder that the grading service calls a Generation 3.1 slab, which was used from March 1993 to September 1998. This type is characterized by its solid pale green, nonperforated label set in a two-piece interlocking plastic slab with the PCGS logo in the plastic at lower right.

The obverse is especially strong. Heritage writes, “This well-worn Good 4 example retains most major design elements complete in outline, but little interior detail remains intact, LIBERTY is completely effaced, and the reverse rim is worn smooth.”

The “Red Book” writes the standard for Good 4 as “Date and legends legible. LIBERTY worn off headband,” and the market considers the merging of letters into the rim on the reverse acceptable in the Good grade for this issue.

Today’s buyers make significant price separations for small increases in grade, with Fair 2 examples trading for around $1,500, solid About Good 3 pieces at the $2,500 level, and even a typical Good 4 example can be found with some luck at auction below $3,000. Since these lower-grade coins can often have some issues consistent with long periods in circulation, collectors value the confidence that a CAC sticker provides that a coin is nice for the grade. CAC-stickered 1901-S Barber quarters in Good 4 can sell for $4,000 and up.

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments