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Barber Coins of the 19th Century

Barber coins were a group of coins minted between 1892 and 1916, designed by United States Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber. The coinage consisted of dime, quarter and half dollar silver pieces.

In 1891, Mint Director Edward O. Leech ordered a competition in order to find a new look for the Seated Liberty designs used since the 1830s. Many artists refused to participate, since only the winner would receive pay, so no entry was chosen. Leech decided to have Barber prepare the new designs, which were approved in November of 1891 and began striking the following January.

Opinions of the new pieces, both of artists and the public, was and still is, mixed. In 1915, Mint officials began plans to replace them after the design’s minimum term expired in 1916. Before the end of 1916, the Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter, and Walking Liberty half dollar had begun production. Most dates of the Barber coin series are not difficult to find, although the 1894 dime, which was struck at the San Francisco Mint with a mintage of 24, is very rare.

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