Barber Quarter Key Dates

Barber Quarter Key Dates

The Barber Quarter is also known as the Liberty Head quarter due to the fact that it features the head of lady liberty and was part of the Barber coin series that ran from 1892 to 1916.

This design was used on Dimes, Quarters, and Half Dollars. They are called “Barbers” because the engraving was created by Charles E. Barber, the United States Chief Engraver at the time.

Like many other coins, certain Barber Quarters are worth more than others. ‘Key Dates’ are date and mint mark combinations of a given coin series or set that are harder to obtain than other dates in the series. The ‘Top 3’ most sought after Barber Quarter key dates are:

1896-S Barber Quarter

The original mintage of 188,039 of the the 1896-S is nearly five times greater than the 1913-S, but there isn’t a very large gap in value between the two. That is because between 1896 and 1913 coin collecting became a more common hobby.

Once the general public realized that not many many quarters were issued from the San Francisco Mint in 1913, collectors quickly began hoarding the 1913-S from circulation. Thus, a much higher percentage of 1913-S quarters were saved, relative to the 1896-S.

An 1896-S Barber Quarter in certified mint state (MS+) condition could bring as much as $16,000 at auction.

1901-S Barber Quarter

The rarest Barber quarter was minted at the San Francisco mint in 1901 and is the key date of the set. The 1901-S Barber Quarter does not have the lowest mintage of the series. That distinction belongs to the 1913-S.

The rarity of the 1901-S comes from the fact that very few examples of the coin were saved, with the majority entering circulation and some being melted afterward. The 1901-S is very valuable in all grades. As such, there are many 1901-s counterfeits, especially in lower grades.

There were only 72,664 total 1901-S Barber Quarters minted. Find a 1901-S and you have a very valuable coin! In certified mint state (MS+) condition the 1901-S Barber Quarter could bring as much as $36,000 at auction.

1913-S Barber Quarter

These are the rarest of the Barber quarters ever issued for circulation with a total of 40,000 minted. Not just the rarest for the year,but for the entire issuance date range of 1892 to 1916. One in MS-63 condition is worth around $21,000.

Even with the 1913-s being the #2 key date of the ‘Top 3’ there are not that many counterfeit 1913-S Barber Quarters, yet. As this coins value rises, it is likely that more fakes will eventually make their way into the market.

Although the Top 3 get most of the attention, many of the other dates in the Barber Quarter series are extremely difficult to find in higher circulated grades, including 1896-O, 1897-O, 1897-S, 1901-O,1905-O, 1909-O, and 1914-S.

Although most dates are still obtainable, many are scarce in uncirculated grades as the coins saw heavy usage. When dealing with these coins it is imperative that you are diligent in making sure that the coin you are purchasing is authentic. These coins are often counterfeited so don’t become a victim.


As with all coins, it is best to always purchase certified coins from a reputable coin grading service. Collectors and dealers consider PCGS and NGC as leaders in coin grading services. They both authenticate and grade your coin. The small fee you pay provides assurance you understand and receive the full value of your coin.


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There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Terry at 8:01 am

    I have in my possession two San Francisco Liberty $5 gold half eagles in near mint condition. They are dated 1859 and 1881. Any info on rarity or value would be greatly appreciated. Tks

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