United States: silver quarter, 1853, "Arrows & Rays" type

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by lordmarcovan, Jul 7, 2020.


How interesting/appealing do you find this coin, whether or not you're an expert? (1=worst, 10=best)

  1. 10

    10 vote(s)
  2. 9

    12 vote(s)
  3. 8

    12 vote(s)
  4. 7

    5 vote(s)
  5. 6

    5 vote(s)
  6. 5

    3 vote(s)
  7. 4

    1 vote(s)
  8. 3

    1 vote(s)
  9. 2

    2 vote(s)
  10. 1

    0 vote(s)
  1. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    United States: silver quarter, 1853, "Arrows & Rays" type
    Obverse: Seated Liberty design by Christian Gobrecht, date below, flanked by arrows.
    Reverse: bald eagle with Union shield,
    surrounded by rays, wings spread, clutching an olive branch and three arrows in its talons.
    Issuer: United States of America, Philadelphia Mint.
    Specifications: .900 silver, , 24.3 mm,
    6.22 g. Mintage: 15,210,020.
    Grade: PCGS VF35; cert. #38640485.
    Reference: PCGS-5426, Numista-24992, KM-78.
    Provenance: ex-John Calder ("CircCam" on CoinTalk), 12 May 2020.
    Notes: The arrows at the date were placed on half dimes through half dollars by the mint in 1853-1855 to indicate a reduction in the weight of certain US silver coins under the Coinage Act of 1853. (The quarter and half dollar also had rays added around the eagle in 1853 only, making a distinct one-year type.) This weight reduction was intended to stop the rampant export and melting of coins by bullion speculators, and was largely successful in ending the shortage of small change, though within a decade the Civil War caused widespread hoarding and increased use of Greenback paper currency.
    Comments: this is what I refer to as a Circulated Cameo, or "CircCam", meaning a coin with darkly toned fields and lighter devices which resulted from the higher points of the design receiving light wear in circulation, giving a sort of "cameo" appearance. It is an attractive look on circulated silver, and this particular example is about as perfect a CircCam as one could hope to find. Despite its relatively modest technical grade, it has superb contrast and eye appeal. If you happen to be into CircCams like I am. Some other folks might find it too dark.
    Additional images

    Nathan401, NSP, ddddd and 2 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    As a type collector for more than 50 years, I voted “5.” This is a one year type, but the mintage was high, and a fair number of them have survived in the circulated grades. The trick is find a pretty Unc. if you are an advanced collector.

    It’s also too dark for me. The reverse, with its two toned look, has an appeal, but not the obverse to my eye. The tarnish has gone a bit too far.
    Magnus87 likes this.
  5. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    That's a valid and unsurprising opinion that will likely be shared by many folks. To each his own. I just happen to be an enthusiast of the Circulated Cameo look- so I like 'em dark... as long as the contrast is there.

    PS- as to finding "a pretty Unc", that's "nice work if you can get it". Not all advanced collectors are advanced in budget, if you know what I mean. I'd consider myself a reasonably advanced collector after 44 years, but my working-class hotel clerk's salary only puts me into the "intermediate" budget class at the best of times. You might say the $50-500 tier is my arena. These coins get pricey in UNC. I'm content with a nice circulated example in this case.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  6. Robert Ransom

    Robert Ransom Well-Known Member

    Love all Seated Liberty's.
  7. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    Seated Liberty is my favorite series. The rays and arrows is by far the most pleasing design to my eye anyway that our mint has issued. And yes, this piece has quite the attractive marriage of contrast. I much appreciate the beauty in this one.
    dwhiz and lordmarcovan like this.
  8. Mat

    Mat Ancient Coincoholic

    It's one of my favorite coins in your collection.

    Here is my current one.

  9. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    Here's mine. It falls short of what I really wanted, but it's what I purchased. A couple of years later, I saw one I liked more. At that time I was not sinking any more money into the type set for upgrades, and selling is a bear for me now.

    1853 w arrows Qu O,jpg.jpg 1853 w arrows Qu R.jpg

    In the old days dealers were willing to work on a closer margin. Now many of them have to "pig out."

    I sold some upgraded coins to my local B&M guy. He re-sold them all in a week's time. To be frank I upgraded his inventory by a great deal. When I brought more to him, he started low balling me. Gee, if you can flip the coins in week, when I see stuff sitting in your inventory for months, what's the problem?
    dwhiz, PassthePuck, john65999 and 2 others like this.
  10. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I would caution other collectors about this "two toned" cameo look on circulated coins. It's not a look that was popular years ago, but maybe you are starting a trend.

    Many years ago, I had a 1793 Half Cent that had brown devices against a black background. The surfaces were hard and not porous. Still, to the copper people it was “a corroded coin” and I lost about $1,000 on it.

    Here is the look one should try to find for circulated silver. It is a light to medium grey with no “cameo devices.” This coin is the ideal, and it's very hard to do this for every coin. It's like shooting a hole in one in golf every time.

    1797 Dollar O.jpg 1797 Dollar R.jpg

    I would term this look as "okay."

    1839QuarterO.JPG 1839QuarterR.JPG
    john65999 likes this.
  11. lordmarcovan

    lordmarcovan Eclectic & odd Moderator

    With copper and CuNi coins, when you get the CircCam look, you have to be really careful not to stray over into "environmental damage" territory. It can be a narrow and nebulous boundary with base metal CircCams.

    As to silver, there's nothing wrong with the coin you call "ideal". I wouldn't, necessarily- to me, it's OK- indeed, quite nice- but our definitions of "ideal" differ somewhat. (As does everyone's.)

    You go on avoiding the coins with contrast if you like. I'll happily go on collecting them.
    john65999 and Randy Abercrombie like this.
  12. TypeCoin971793

    TypeCoin971793 Just a random nobody who doesn’t know anything...

    I voted 7. For the grade, I really like the contrast, though the fields are a bit too dark for my taste. I generally prefer this type in higher grades because the rays really shine. For interest, I love this type. The history for why it was conceived, along with the attractiveness and uniqueness of the rays themselves, add greatly to the score. Hence a 7.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  13. QuintupleSovereign

    QuintupleSovereign Well-Known Member

    I really like this piece; good, honest wear throughout with all major design features visible.
  14. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    If you had submitted the OP coin to PCGS or NGC back when I was having my collection graded, it would have come back in a body bag as "environmental damage."
  15. Publius2

    Publius2 Well-Known Member

    I voted 6 because I find the fields a mite too dark for my tastes. Otherwise, it's a very nice and attractive coin and the A&R is one of my favorites.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  16. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Derp, derp, derp!

    7: The lighter color is almost a red color to my eyes and it has an odd appeal to me. I have a mercury dime toned the same way and I only bought it because it had that reddish tone to it (and it filled a hole!).
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  17. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Another beautiful coin.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  18. kanga

    kanga 65 Year Collector Supporter

    I gave it a "7".
    I happen to like the "arrows at date" SL coins.
    The difference always grabbed my attention.
    But I don't care for any coins that are toned that dark.

    BTW, I have a full set of "arrows at date" SL coins.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
  19. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Derp, derp, derp!

    New thread idea! Let's see 'em. :)
  20. CoinCorgi

    CoinCorgi Derp, derp, derp!

    Including the CC ones?
  21. ddddd

    ddddd Member

    9 ....basically as good as it gets for the CircCam look.
    lordmarcovan likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page