Series notes: Bust Quarters (1796-1838)

While the quarter denomination was authorized in 1792, the first quarter was not issued until 1796 with the release of the first Draped Bust quarter, credited to designer Gilbert Stuart and engraver Robert Scot. Draped Bust quarters were struck from 1796 through 1807, with a hiatus spanning from 1797 through 1803.

All Draped Bust quarters are scarce, with the first-year type the rarest of all issues. Only 6,146 were minted, and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) estimates that only 650 remain across all grades, with fewer than 100 still preserved in uncirculated condition. Another important series rarity is the 1804 Draped Bust quarter, which saw a mintage of just 6,738 yet has fewer than 400 survivors today ? and just half a dozen in uncirculated.

The 1805, 1806, and 1807 Draped Bust quarters have mintages in the low six figures, but today only a couple thousand or so of each exist. Variety enthusiasts will find some interesting pieces among the Draped Bust, with the 1806 date featuring the most popular ? an 1806 Over 5 overdate.

In 1815, the Capped Bust motif was introduced, and while this subtype is far more common today than its Draped Bust predecessor, these latter Bust quarters are nevertheless still numismatically scarce. The Capped Bust design, originally by John Reich, lasted until 1838. However, changes came in 1831 when the quarter was physically made smaller, with a reduced diameter ? 24.3 millimeters versus 27 millimeters ? and a modified bust by William Kneass took the obverse.

Generally, the large-size Capped Bust quarters are all of roughly equal availability and price, with a few exceptions, most notable of these being the incredibly rare 1823 3 Over 2 overdate. Other rare varieties include the 1822 25 Over 50 C., 1824 4 Over 2, and 1828 25 Over 50 C. The reduced-diameter Capped Bust quarters have no significantly scarce issues or varieties.

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