Q. David Bowers (edited and updated by Mike Sherman): Along with the other silver denominations, quarters were reduced in weight in 1853 as a measure against the hoarding and melting of newly released pieces. The authorized weight, previously 103.125 grains, was lowered to 96 grains. To signify this reduction, an arrowhead was placed on either side of the date on the obverse, and rays were added around the eagle on the reverse. The rays were used only in 1853, and thus constitute a separate type. In 1854-55, the rays were removed creating an “arrows, no rays” type as well. Both Philadelphia and New Orleans struck this type in 1853, in quantities of 15,210,000 and 1,332,000 respectively.
-- Reprinted with permission from "United States Coins by Design Types - An Action Guide for the Collector and Investor" by Q. David Bowers