This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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The 1901-O Barber quarter is hard to find in any condition above AG-3.
With a mintage of 1,612,000, this coin should be easy to find in all grades.
I have visited almost all coins shows in central Florida over the last four months. I have not been able to find one dealer who had a 1901-O in stock.
When comparing the 1901-O against the 1896-O and 1905-O, the disparity is even worse in pricing. See chart.
In each grade from G-4 through VF-20 the 1901-O costs more than the 1896-O and 1905-O. Of the three coins, the 1901-O has the highest mintage and the highest prices.
Each month Numismatic News issues a price guide. The prices above are listed in the May issue.
Since I have not been able to find the 1901-O at shows, I visited eBay, Barber quarters. There were 30 coins for sale under the term, “Buy it Now.” Of the coins listed, most were graded AG-3 and G-4 with a price range of $22.99 through $43.99 plus postage.
To sum it up, I have talked to many dealers about the 1901-O Barber quarter. I asked each dealer why this coin is so hard to find. I was given the following reasons:
1. Barber quarters were not collected much when they were issued.
2. Barber quarters were used in every day change to the point that many are not worth more than melt value because they were worn out.
3. Over the last 100 years as silver reached new highs, large quantities were melted for the silver value.
4. Barber quarters do not have a large following.
With a lack of demand except in high grades, dealers who do have a supply of Barber quarters do so in low grades and mostly the common dates. All the four reasons given do make some sense but with 1,612,000 made, it is hard to believe most were melted for the silver value.
Does anyone know of a good, sound reason why the 1901-O Barber quarter is hard to find in all grades above AG-3? Even the 1901-S, a rare coin, is easy to find with a price in the $6,000 range for grade G-4.
Wayne A. Munscher is a hobbyist from Largo, Fla., who began by working on his Boy Scout coin collecting merit badge 57 years ago.
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