Barber/Liberty Head Type Set I wish to introduce my 3-coin type set, but also to provide some additional information concerning these coins. History As many collectors know, the Liberty head dime, quarter, and half was minted from 1892-1916 and replaced the tired 50+ year-old seated liberty design for the same denominations. Initially, it was thought that a competition among the nation’s top 10 artists would produce compelling designs, but these artists complained about the insufficient compensation, legal restrictions, the limited timeframe to comply, and thus declined to participate. Thus, in response, the Treasury invited the general public to submit designs and some 300 entries were received of which only two were worthy of consideration. The Mint Director considered the contest a “wretched failure” and he then directed his Chief Engraver, Charles Barber to complete the task. This may have been the game plan all along with Barber being one of the contest judges (see Walter Breen in his Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial Coins, pg 322 referencing Taxay). Design In Cornelius Vermeule’s opinion of the Barber design “The heavy profile, solemn eyes, thick jaw, and massive neck of the statue [“Republic” by Daniel Chester French, see below image] were absolutely in harmony with what Charles Barber had created for the coinage in the year of the (1893) fair’s opening.” More on the statue here: http://wendycitychicago.com/a-worlds-fair-moment/ Vermeule continues “….no series has stood the wearing demands of modern coinage so well as the half dollar, quarter dollar, and dime…..Liberty’s cap, incised diadem, and wreath of laurel were designed to echo all the depth and volume of her Olympian countenance. These classical substances are offset, almost literally, by the sharply rectangular dentils of the raised rim and by the strength of the 13 six-pointed stars." Vermeule provides other design compliments and can be seen in his excellent book “Numismatic Art in America” (2nd edition) (pg 86-87). I have read amusing criticism regarding the design: the mannish depiction of Liberty, the scorpion like cap, and the reverse eagle splayed-like as if awaiting dissection. I think there is truth in those descriptions, but nonetheless, the design has certainly grown on me! Coins Here is my new dime (PCGS MS65 CAC). As a type collector who enjoys colorful toning, I was attracted to the icy blue seen throughout, especially on the reverse. I also like the repunched 8 in the date and the die crack beginning at 2:00. The quarter (PCGS MS65 CAC) is distinctive because of the incredible hulk like green shown on the obverse. Maybe there is a genetic connection with the comic book superhero? I think it is rare to find green toning on classic coinage. My half dollar (PCGS MS64+ CAC) was obtained at the last winter FUN show and, when considering the reverse toning, seemed to match well with the quarter. Two other aspects of the coin were compelling. First, the coin being made in San Francisco in the year of the great earthquake that burned up the city (leaving the mint largely intact due to employee efforts and building design foresight). Secondly, I appreciated the original surfaces that have fortunately been retained on my example. NGC’s David Lange has stated: "Uncirculated Barber half dollars can be extraordinarily beautiful when well preserved, but sadly most have succumbed to careless handling over the years. The perceived aesthetic value of toning has been subject to shifting tastes within the collecting community, this natural patina being prized by one generation and reviled by the next. As a result, many Barber halves have been cleaned with varying degrees of skill and may show hairline scratches or a loss of luster." Final thoughts It so happens that these three coins have come from the same dealer who happens to be a member here – Tom Bush. If you haven’t considered him as a reputable and ethical source for excellent coins, I think you should. Additionally, the photos were taken by Tom (dime) and the other two by another member here, brg5658. Unlike some photos by others, these accurately reflect the coin when seen in person. They both have great talent and I would recommend either for your coin pic needs. http://www.ivyleaguecoin.com/ http://brgphoto.com/ I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and my three colorful Barber coins!