1859-S Seated Liberty Quarter

The San Francisco Mint commenced operations on April 3, 1854. The building was relatively small by coining facility standards, measuring just 60’ x 60’ and three stories high.(1)

In the hard money economy of the fast-growing American West, the infant mint could scarcely supply the coinage urgently needed for commerce. Nearly all production entered circulation immediately and saw extensive use.(2)

In 1859, just 80,000 quarters were struck bearing the “S” mintmark. Like its predecessors, the 1859-S was gobbled up by a coin-starved public. Few, if any examples were set aside.

According to researcher Larry Briggs in his definitive work on the subject, The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Liberty Seated Quarters, the 1859-S is difficult to find in any grade today, especially examples with good eye appeal.(3)

Reflective of its rarity and appeal to collectors, the 1859-S quarter owns a lengthy value trend pattern matched by very few coins in United States numismatics. Going back to 1990 or even 1950, prices have risen at a much faster pace than average collectible coins.

Opportunity knocks: So many of the coins belonging to the BEST group are priced far beyond what average collectors can afford. Although the continual rise of the 1859-S is based on solid numismatic fundamentals, with careful planning and discipline, in lower grades it remains within the reach of buyers of modest means. Be patient and search for a certified example without problems (damaged, cleaned, etc) and you will be rewarded for years to come.

Estimated survivors in all grades: 300
? The survivor estimate from PCGS represents an average of one or more experts' opinions as to how many examples survive of a particular coin in all grades. Survival estimates include coins that are raw, certified by PCGS, and certified by other grading services.
Learn more at PCGS.
PCGS Rarity Scale: 6.4
? The 'PCGS CoinFacts Rarity Scale' assesses the relative rarity of all U.S. coins, based on estimated surviving examples. The scale runs from 1.0 to 10.0. The higher the number, the rarer the coin.
Learn more at PCGS.
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1859-S Seated Liberty quarter photos Surprising value trend history of 1859-S Seated Liberty quarter
Trendline Avg = 30.05 BEST
Last updated 4-9-24
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1. Bowers, Q. David.   The History of United States Coinage.  Los Angeles, CA: Bowers and Ruddy Galleries, Inc., 1979.

2. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1859-S Liberty Seated Quarter.  Feb 2014 Auction.

3. Heritage Auction.  1859-S 25C.  Aug 2013 Auction.

**Many very fine coin dealers sell on eBay. At any point in time, there may be over one million search results for United States coins. This includes quite a few of the recommendations on our Key Date Coin List.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a rare coin, eBay is certainly worth a look. For your convenience, the links from this site to eBay are coded to bring up only coins certified by PCGS and NGC.

As is always, always the case, never buy a valuable coin from a seller whose trustworthiness cannot be verified. Learn more about this at our chapter Best Places to Buy Coins, which also has a section on doing business on eBay.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.