1897-S Barber Quarter

The 1897-S Barber quarter has a mintage of just 542,229 pieces, one of the lowest of the Barber quarter series and a key date, yet it is often overshadowed by the 1896-S.(1)

Most of the 1897-S quarters entered circulation, where they performed admirably, but were heavily worn or lost. This date is elusive in all grades and a most worthy acquisition.

The “S” mintmark on the 1897-S quarter is found in two locations: 1) Far to the right, above the D in DOLLAR; and 2) equidistant from the eagle’s tail, the final R in QUARTER, the D in DOLLAR.(2)

Of these two mintmark locations, the far right position is the most normally seen, and those with the mintmark centered between the tail and lettering are comparatively rare. However, because the 1897-S is already a highly valued coin, a premium is seldom attached to an 1897-S example with the uncommon mintmark location.

The 1897-S quarter may indeed present an opportunity for astute collectors searching for an undervalued coin (known as “Cherrypickers’ in numismatic lingo). It’s not hard to imagine someday an example with the scarce mintmark placement commanding a big premium.

Fascinating Fact: The far-right “S” mintmark reverse dies were fabricated at the Philadelphia Mint in late 1892 or 1893 and shipped to San Francisco, where they remained in service until 1897. The dies lasted longer than originally expected because the “Panic of 1893” depression that gripped the nation throughout the mid-1890’s caused relatively low mintages and less stress on the dies, thus extending their lives.

Some collectors think of the 1897-S Barber quarter as a semi-key date, but anyone who holds that view should study the value trend charts for the coin. Amazing!

Estimated survivors in all grades: 2000
? 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: 4.6
? 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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1897-S Barber quarter photos The surprising 1897-S Barber quarter
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Last updated 4-9-24
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1. Stack's Bowers Galleries.  1897-S Barber Quarter.  Mar 2018 Auction.

2. Lange, David W.  Those Shifty Mintmarks. Sep 2010.  The Numismatist.  American Numismatic Association.

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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.

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Coin images by Stack's Bowers Galleries.