The 1901 S Barber Quarter: A Numismatic Rarity

The 1901 S Barber Quarter

The 1901 S Barber Quarter is the rarest across all grades and one of the top 20th-century U.S. coin rarities. Most surviving examples are heavily worn, with Fine or higher grades being particularly scarce. Among the few certified MS coins, some exceptional gems fetch high auction prices. The 1901 S quarter is often counterfeited by adding a mintmark to the common Philadelphia issue, though certification has largely curbed this. 

Genuine 1901-S quarters all share the 2/3 hub pairing, with two obverse dies and two reverse dies, both featuring the mintmark style used from 1898-1915. Most affected mintmarks utilize the 1917-41 technique, making alterations observable. Certification is important for any 1901-S quarter.

History 1901 S Barber Quarter

The 1901 S Barber Quarter is the undisputed “King of Barber Coinage,” highly coveted for its rarity and historical significance. With just 72,664 pieces minted at the San Francisco Mint, it declared the record for the lowest mintage in the Barber series until 1913. Unlike some later issues, public interest in the 1901-S Quarter during its production was primarily utilitarian rather than numismatic, leading many to circulate heavily and resulting in few surviving in high grades.

Even among Barber series enthusiasts, the 1901-S Quarter is exceedingly rare in Mint State condition, with surviving specimens largely owing their existence to fortunate circumstances. This particular MS-68 (PCGS) example is unparalleled, representing the highest grade known to PCGS. Its technical merits and eye appeal are unparalleled and deserve the utmost respect within numismatic circles.


  • Mint: San Francisco
  • Mintage: 72,664
  • Obverse Designer: Charles E. Barber
  • Reverse Designer: Charles E. Barber
  • Composition: Silver (0.900 fine)
  • Weight: 6.25 grams
  • Actual Silver Weight (ASW): 0.1808 ounces
  • Diameter: 24.3mm
  • Edge: Reeded

Basic Design


The obverse side of the 1901 S Barber Quarter shows a portrait of Liberty facing right, wearing a Phrygian cap with a laurel wreath and a headband inscribed “LIBERTY.”


On the reverse side, there is an olive branch and an arrow-wielding heraldic eagle, surrounded by the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “QUARTER DOLLAR.” The surfaces of the coins regularly show different levels of mint luster and can have faint toning, which is reflective of handling and age.

Value Of 1901 S Barber Quarter

According to the NGC Price Guide, a Barber Quarter from 1901 in the circulated condition is worth between $3750 and $47000 as of July 2024. However, 1901 S Quarters in pristine, uncirculated condition sell for as much as $475000 on the open market.

Errors and Varieties

The 1901-S is very rare, which has led to multiple efforts at similarity. Updating the mintmark or exploring to pass off a 1901 Philadelphia release as a San Francisco mint product are two popular techniques. To tell authentic examples from fakes, collectors, and experts are required to carefully examine edge features, mintmark locations, and die qualities.


Due to the prevalence of counterfeits, certification is essential for authenticating a 1901-S Barber Quarter. The coin’s authenticity hinges on matching specific die pairs, mintmark styles, and edge characteristics documented in authoritative references like David Lawrence’s The Complete Guide to Barber Quarters. Advanced collectors may also look for die cracks or other unique features that confirm the coin’s provenance and integrity.

Also Read – 1895 Proof Morgan Dollar: A Complete Guide


Despite its face value, the 1901 S Barber Quarter is a valuable piece of American history and numismatic legend. Its design and scarcity highlight its ongoing popularity in the world of coin collecting, while its rarity and attraction continue to fascinate collectors. Every genuine 1901-S Quarter that appears in public or private collections continues on the history of a coin that is the high point of the Barber series and an important component of American numismatics.

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