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Barber Quarter MM Placement - Just Anywhere Close?

ElKevvoElKevvo Posts: 3,989 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited June 8, 2023 6:38AM in U.S. Coin Forum

I was looking at a couple of Barber quarters last night and noticed the MM location on the 2 was different. Did a search for varieties and several of them (not this particular date / mm combo) had wandering MM placement. Was it just bad quality control or was there another reason? I know that for Morgan Dollars New Orleans had challenges with getting full strikes consistently so maybe just overall issues. Here are the coins I looked at:

1898 - 'Normal' MM placement which is where I would expect it:

1894 - Wandering MM placement...a couple of the varieties had a MM placed near this location:




  • TheRavenTheRaven Posts: 4,143 ✭✭✭✭

    What years are those? My barber quarter book is at home however.

    Collection under construction: VG Barber Quarters & Halves
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sure is a noticeable difference.... No idea why it would move so far over. Cheers, RickO

  • ElKevvoElKevvo Posts: 3,989 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TheRaven said:
    What years are those? My barber quarter book is at home however.

    Sorry...an important detail! The one with the normal MM is an 1898 and the other is an 1894. :) Thanks!

    ANA LM
  • ElKevvoElKevvo Posts: 3,989 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 8, 2023 6:41AM

    Maybe just wear but it even looks like the right side of the tail was truncated a bit to accommodate the mint mark. It seems to have a little indentation directly above it compared to the straighter tail on the '98.


    ANA LM
  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 8,719 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Might have been an overworked puncher that was just trying to get out their quota and keep their job. Quantity over Quality. Probably needed 200 dies to be done quickly.

    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

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  • BuffaloIronTailBuffaloIronTail Posts: 7,341 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 8, 2023 10:46AM

    Can you imagine the headache that the person responsible for applying the mintmark to coins destined for branch mints must have had.

    He had to hand punch the mintmark into a pre-detrmined space on every die and denomination that Philadelphia produced for branch mint coins.

    See, back then Philadelphia made all the dies exclusively. They were then parceled out to the branch mints according to the mintage authorized by the Government.

    Mintmarks were given a pre-determined area that was acceptable.

    So of course, each die had a slightly (and sometimes indistinguishable) location.

    Edited to add:

    That's why the Lincoln Cent #3 in the date had a small (incorrect) tail to it. If you look at the 1934-D, you will see the correct rendition of the 3 in the date.

    Notice how little room and crowded area was left for a mintmatk punch.

    I'm sure that the Chief Engraver at the time (John Sinnock) noticed it and reverted back to the small tail 3.


    "I tell them there's no problems.....only solutions" - John Lennon
  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 10,884 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @keyman64 said:
    Many other coins have plenty of variation in MM placement. Mercury Dimes is one such series.

    Yep, and don’t forget the Carson City varieties, where the space between the CC varies.

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  • Manifest_DestinyManifest_Destiny Posts: 1,925 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    The various mintmark positions for Barber quarters have been known for decades. In 1892 the mintmarks were placed essentially over the R in QUARTER and centrally located beneath the tail feathers. From 1893 through 1895 the mintmarks are placed either between the R and the D of QUARTER DOLLAR or directly over the D of DOLLAR. The mintmarks that appear between the R and the D are sometimes called center mintmarks and those that are placed over the D are sometimes called far right mintmarks. In 1896 and from 1898 onward the mintmarks are in the center position between the R and the D. In 1897 there are both center and far right mintmarks with the 1897-S being fairly scarce at any grade level with the center mintmark and really quite scarce above VG8 with original skin and the center mintmark.

    Great summary and correct info. Just to add a couple of points. There's no 1897-o far right and interestingly the MM positions are essentially 50/50 in 1893 and the centered MM positions become increasingly rare each subsequent year, the 97-s being the rarest of all the MM position varieties.

  • jedmjedm Posts: 2,873 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If you're interested in learning more about Barber coins you may want to check out the Michael F. Hayes memorial Barber thread. There's a discussion going on right now in real time about mint mark placements. It's been a wealth of information for me over the years and you may even meet a few fellow enthusiasts that you become friends with. One comment that Mike Hayes made to me on the subject of Barber quarters many years ago is what inspired me to make that series one of my favorite to collect.

  • ElKevvoElKevvo Posts: 3,989 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks! Really good info...always plenty of new things to learn!


    ANA LM
  • steve76020steve76020 Posts: 364 ✭✭✭

    they both look exactlylike the example in pcgs coin facts app which suprised me considering the one mm is way to the right

  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The basic problem is that the eagle is too dang big. It overlaps the legend and did not leave a natural space for the mint mark. The Assistant Engravers tasked with adding mint marks to certain dies just did the best they could.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,665 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "Shakes" transitioned from barber to dentist to die setter in his later years.

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