Going back to the earliest years of the U.S. Mint, quarters have been one of the dominant coins in production. For more than 200 years, 25-cent coins have been a convenient and practical part of American coinage, arguably one of the most common forms of metal currency in circulation today. An unusual denomination when compared to the 1/5 increment used in most of the world, the quarter dollar coin is truly an American tradition.
Barber Quarters are one of the lesser-known types produced, minted during the last eight years of the 19th century through the first 15 years of the 20th century. Just like the other Silver coins of the day, all quarter-dollars minted from 1892 to 1916 were designed by U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber; thus the name "Barber Quarter." These coins were only created for a short span of time relative to other series, so they are exceedingly popular among today's collectors. Mint locations that struck this series of coins included Philadelphia, Denver, New Orleans and San Francisco. As with all other collectible coinage, adoration grows stronger as the condition of the coin in question increases.
Even though the Barber was minted only briefly, it is not always expensive to purchase. In fact, you can frequently find these Silver quarters at highly affordable prices in comparison to those produced later on, such as the Standing Liberty or even present-day Washington quarters.
What you will pay for a Barber Quarter
Several variables contribute to the value that might be assigned to an individual Barber Quarter. The foremost factor when assigning the value for any coin in this series is the year in which it was minted. Asking prices can be highly variable, even for coins produced in consecutive years. While a coin from a particular year may be incredibly valuable, a coin minted just a year or two later may sell for a much more negligible amount. Generally, the starting price for a Barber is below $6, but some have been known to go for more than $1,000 if the coin is in excellent condition.
Another factor contributing to the price of this Silver coin is the type of Barber you own. Each year while the series was in production, up to three different types of quarter were minted, each currently valued at a very different price. The 1892-O, for example, will typically sell for around $95 while the 1892-S will sell for nearly $200 in the same, Extremely Fine condition. An 1896-S edition in Good condition, meaning you can still distinguish the outline of the head form and all text is legible, can be purchased for around $900.
The Most Sought-After Barber Quarters
For most collectors, the two most desired Barbers are coins that include visible design errors and mintmarks that have been deemed to be unique or rare. That being said, since the Barber series quarters were only minted for 24 years, a relatively small window in terms of coin production, finding a rare version today is mostly unheard of. So aside from the infrequent rare variants, the most sought-after Barbers are examples that have held up solidly against the wear and tear of time. Any coins in excellent condition are considered immensely covetable, primarily due to their resilient beauty in spite of their age.
Levels of demand for Barber Quarters can change rapidly from year to year. Today, coins in Fine or better condition are scarce. A 1916 Barber Quarter might sell for $9 to upwards of $70, depending on condition. The key dates to look for in all grades are 1896-S, 1901-S and 1913-S. The best examples found today are usually from later dates in the series.
Barber Quarters Future Value
The best way to understand the definitive value of a coin is to have it inspected by an expert. Because these quarter-dollar pieces were made from 90 percent Silver, they will always retain a certain level of value in the Precious Metal. As with other Charles Barber coinage, the desirability of his designs has gone up in recent years, after experiencing low valuation through the late 1960s. As time moves forward and fewer examples come up for purchase, the average price paid for a Barber has risen significantly. Whether you are drawn to the beauty, the history or the high Silver content, Barber Quarters are an excellent option for anyone interested in collectible coins.