Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): Gobrecht’s Liberty Seated design made its appearance in the quarter dollar denomination in 1838. Matching the other new silver designs of the time, the quarter depicts Liberty seated on a rock, her left hand holding a liberty cap on a pole and her right holding a shield inscribed LIBERTY. Thirteen stars are around the upper border, and the date is below. The reverse is somewhat similar to the preceding design, except the denomination is now expressed as QUAR DOL. instead of 25 C and the eagle is a bit heavier looking with a shorter neck and body. There is no motto on the reverse.
This design was produced continuously from 1838 through early 1853 and again from 1856 through 1865. Early issues lack drapery at Liberty’s elbow. Some issues dated 1853 and all those dated 1854 and 1855 display arrows at the date discussed in the following section.
The collector has a wide variety of type set possibilities within the range. Although there are a number of scarce and rare dates, among them the New Orleans issues of 1849, 1851 and 1852, the San Francisco issues of 1859, 1860 and 1864, and the 1853 without arrows, there are enough common dates that there should be no difficulty in obtaining coins graded Good through Extremely Fine, although it is important to note that Liberty Seated quarters of this era are in general scarcer than half dimes, dimes or half dollars. AU and Uncirculated coins are a bit more elusive, but obtainable given money and patience. Proofs were distributed to the public beginning in 1858.
-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers