Most Expensive Coins

1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter: A Collector’s Guide

1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter: A Collector’s Guide

The 1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter is a unique coin for collectors due to its rarity and historical significance. Especially interesting are the variations between the Small Date and Large Date versions of this coin. The mintage of the 1842-O Small Date quarter is unknown but supposed to be quite small, making it extremely rare in all grades, especially in Mint State. Only one pair of dies was used for this limited issue, adding to its allure for numismatists.

History of 1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter

The Liberty Seated Quarter series, designed by Christian Gobrecht and Robert Ball Hughes, was minted from 1838 to 1891. Gobrecht, who began providing his engraving services to the U.S. Mint as an outside contractor, was hired as the second engraver in 1835 under Chief Engraver William Kneass. 

By 1840, Gobrecht’s designs had been adopted across most U.S. coin denominations. The revisions made in 1842 included enlargements of the date and legends, although the exact reasons for these changes are not clearly documented.

Specifications

  • Series: Liberty Seated Quarters (1838-1891)
  • PCGS MS64
  • Designer: Robert Ball Hughes/Christian Gobrecht
  • Edge: Reeded
  • Diameter: 24.30 millimeters
  • Weight: 6.74 grams
  • Mintage: 769,000 (Large Date)
  • Mint: New Orleans
  • Metal: 90% Silver, 10% Copper

Basic Design

Obverse (Front):

  • Features of the obverse side of the coin Liberty seated on a rock with holding a shield in one hand and a pole with a Phrygian cap on the other side.

Reverse (Back):

  • The reverse side of the coin depicts an eagle with outstretched wings, clutching an olive branch and arrows, symbolizing peace and readiness for war.

Value and Rarity of 1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter

According to the NGC Price Guide, as of May 2024, an 1842-O Small Date Seated Liberty Quarter in the circulated condition is valued between $500 and $43,500. However, pristine, uncirculated examples can fetch up to $85,000. The 1842-O Small Date is exceptionally rare, especially in higher grades. The Large Date, while still collectible, is more common, particularly in circulated conditions.

Condition and Auction Records

The highest auction record for an 1842-O Large Date Seated Liberty Quarter is $19,800 for an MS65 grade coin, sold by David Akers on May 1, 1998. Mint State pieces of the 1842-O Small Date are almost non-existent, which makes any appearance at auction a significant event for collectors.

Other Denominations in 1842

Half Cent:

  • No circulation coins from 1836-1848; rare proof-only strikings, often considered novodels and restrikes.

Cent:

  • Coined for general circulation, available in both Small Date and Large Date varieties. Proofs of the Small Date are very rare.

Half Dime:

  • Minted at both Philadelphia and New Orleans, with the New Orleans issue (1842-O) being scarce in higher grades and rare in uncirculated conditions. Known for the “No Drapery” variety.

Dime:

  • Both Philadelphia and New Orleans issues are common in lower grades, with the 1842-O Small O variety being scarce. Philadelphia proofs are extremely rare.

Quarter Dollar:

  • Philadelphia Mint produced fewer quarters than New Orleans in 1842. Small Date varieties are significantly rarer than Large Date, with the 1842(P) Small Date known only in proof (six examples).

Half Dollar:

  • Features Small Date and Medium Date varieties, with several notable combinations. The 1842 Small Date with Small Letters is extremely rare, with only two known examples.

Silver Dollar:

  • Limited mintage of 184,618; rare in mint state. No significant varieties.

Quarter Eagle:

  • Minted at Philadelphia, Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans. All issues are scarce, with no major varieties. Small Date typical of 1840-41.

Half Eagle:

  • Varieties include Small Date/Small Letters and Small Date/Large Letters. 1842-C and 1842-D issues feature both Small Date/Small Letters and Large Date/Large Letters combinations.

Eagle:

  • Reintroduced in 1838, produced only at Philadelphia and New Orleans. Small Date and Large Date varieties at Philadelphia, with New Orleans using only Large Date.

Also Read – 1824 Capped Bust Quarter: A Numismatic Rarity

Conclusion

The 1842 O Liberty Seated Quarter, Especially the Small Date variation is a unique piece of numismatic history. It is highly valued by collectors because of its rarity and the subtle variations in its design. This coin’s historical richness is enhanced by the period’s wider context, which saw substantial changes to its numerous monetary values. 

In addition to their beauty and rarity, collectors value these coins for the knowledge they provide about the economic history of the country and the United States Mint’s processes in the middle of the 19th century. 

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