US Coins

Seeking evidence of third 1873-S quarter reverse

Numismatic researcher and coin collector Greg Johnson is seeking concrete evidence that three different reverse dies were used in striking 1873-S Seated Liberty quarter dollars at the San Francisco Mint.

In the February 2016 issue of The E-Gobrecht, the electronic newsletter of the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, Johnson discusses and illustrates the two reverses for which examples are well-known.

Reverse A exhibits a large, open S Mint mark that is positioned just below the bottom tail feather of the top arrow, and above the upright of the R in QUAR. DOL. Reverse B exhibits a smaller, more squashed Mint mark, positioned in the field below where the tail feathers of the top arrow cross the branch held in the eagle's right talon, and above the right side of the R in QUAR.

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Based on his research of the Heritage Auctions archives, Johnson says that in 71 confirmed sales of 1873-S Seated Liberty quarter dollars, proportionately, three to four examples of coins with Reverse B were offered to every example with Reverse A.

Johnson explains that Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, published in 1988, describes, but does not illustrate, an 1873-S Seated Liberty, Open 3 quarter dollar with Double S Mint mark, the first punch too low, then corrected.

Johnson states he has never seen an example of the reverse that Breen identifies, and none of the 71 1873-S Seated Liberty quarter dollars recorded in Heritage's archives exhibit the reverse.

Breen's suggested third reverse is also not cited in Larry Briggs' subsequent detailed reference, The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of United States Liberty Seated Quarters.

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