Guide to U.S. Capped Bust Quarters
Following an eight-year hiatus for the denomination, the Capped Bust Quarter was launched in 1815. The same basic design had been previously adopted for the half dollar in 1807 and the dime in 1809. Similar to these two series, the quarters can be divided into two different subtypes. For the initial portion of the series, the coins have a wide diameter. For the later portion of the series, the coins have a reduced diameter and slight modifications to the design.
Since first struck in 1796, the quarter dollar had seen limited demand within the early United States. The denomination was too large to conduct transactions in everyday commerce, and too small to meet the needs of bullion depositors and financial institutions. The final issue of the previous quarter dollar series was struck in 1807, and the denomination was not produced again until after the conclusion of the War of 1812, which had created a great shortage of coinage in the country.
The original design for the Capped Bust Quarter used from 1815 to 1828 was created by German immigrant John Reich, who had been hired as an assistant to Robert Scot. The obverse features an image of Liberty facing to the left and wearing a cloth cap with a band inscribed LIBERTY. Her curly locks of hair flow down to her shoulder, which is covered in drapery secured by a brooch. The design is completed with seven stars to the left, six stars to the right, and the date below.
The reverse features an updated rendition of the bald eagle, facing to the left with its wings spread. On the eagle’s breast is a large shield, with horizontal and vertical lines. A bundle of arrows and an olive branch are grasped within its talons. A scroll placed above reads E PLURIBUS UNUM. The remaining inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and 25 C. appear above and below.
After a three-year gap in production, a modified design would be adopted in 1831 and struck until the conclusion of the series in 1838. The coins had more finely executed design details, smaller dentils around the rim, and a reduced diameter. The most noticeable change was the removal of the scroll bearing E PLURIBUS UNUM on the reverse of the coin. These design changes were executed by William Kneass and coincided with the relocation of the Mint to a new building with improved machinery.
Proof Capped Bust Quarters were produced for certain dates of the series, but always in extremely limited quantities. During this time period, the production of proofs was irregular and often not recorded. The estimated mintages are typically 10 or fewer pieces, with certain dates only represented by a single survivor. For the first subtype, proofs are known to exist for the dates of 1818, 1820 to 1825, and 1827 to 1828. The 1827 Proof is known as both an original and restrike. For the second subtype, the known proofs include 1831 and 1833 to 1838. All surviving proof examples are rare and typically pursued by advanced collectors.