Some coins can be fun for a number of reasons and the 1909-O Barber quarter is one of those. It is not the key to the Barber quarter set. It can never rival the likes of the 1901-S, 1913-S or even the 1896-S. That said, being the key date in a set is not everything.
The 1909-O has a lower-than-average mintage and one thing the key dates will never have ? a place in history as the last quarter to be produced at the New Orleans Mint. That?s worth something if you happen to love historically important coins or are interested in the history of the New Orleans facility.
It was a long and strange trip from the day the facility produced its first coins back in 1838 until the 1909-O and other coins of that year were produced.
New Orleans has always been a wonderful place and the same was true of the mint. It was approved partially because the city was offering a great piece of real estate as the location. New Orleans was a center of transportation, but other cities could also make that claim. It was only New Orleans, however, that was making an offer too good to refuse.
The mint was over budget and behind schedule when it opened, but for a time, things seemed to be going well, as it was the second mint of the United States and the only other facility that could make silver coins. Then came the Civil War and New Orleans fell quickly to the state of Louisiana and in turn was turned over to the Confederate States of America.
After the hostilities had ended, the U.S. was not in a mood to repair the former facilities and New Orleans looked to be out of the coin production business forever. After a few years, however, there were complaints that the original deal made it necessary to produce coins if the U.S. wanted to keep the land.
Another factor was that the Comstock Lode silver was threatening to drive down the price of silver. To prevent that, the U.S. had to produce a lot of silver coins and needed a facility other than Carson City, which was not living up to expectations. That made New Orleans a logical choice, as it would quiet the local critics and provide added capacity. In 1879, New Orleans was brought back to life.
New Orleans expanded to produce Barber coins in 1892. That would continue until 1909, as at that point, coin production was permanently halted at New Orleans.
In that final year, New Orleans produced a total of 712,000 quarters, the smallest New Orleans mintage of Barber quarters. Few collected quarters then and if there were some, the 1909-O was not going to stand out as especially significant in terms of its mintage.
The lower mintage does produce a higher $25 price in G-4 today for the 1909-O. It is $1,700 in MS-60 and $9,000 in MS-65. Those are strong prices, as there are only a few Barber quarters at $10,000 in MS-65.
The numbers at the grading services support the high price, as NGC has seen the 1909-O 35 times and of that total, 30 were Mint State, but only six were MS-65 or better. At PCGS, the number seen is 42, and of that total, 35 were Mint State with only five at MS-65 or better.
That makes the 1909-O a good deal. You have 11 examples in MS-65 or better and some could be repeats. Even the Mint State total is relatively low, and this is a coin that is legitimately a historic issue and a lower-mintage one, as well. That makes for a good combination of reasons to want a 1909-O.