USA Quarter Dollar


This quarter dollar coin was found in the back garden of a 1930’s house in Broadclose Road. The date on the coin is 1853, which actually pre-dates the American Civil War – hence the 13 stars on the obverse of the coin around a ‘Seated Liberty’.
On the reverse is the inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination QUAR. DOL., encircling an eagle clutching arrows and branches.

These coins did stay in circulation for over 30 years, but the condition of this coin is VG showing that it circulated for less than 10 years (silver wears pretty fast).

Following the ‘California Gold Rush’ of 1849, there was so much gold mined that the gold/silver ratio dramatically changed (4 quarter dollars became equivalent to $1.06 in gold.). This change in gold/silver ratio meant that coins before 1853 were melted down and exchanged for gold.

The treasury officials decided to stop this practice by lowering the silver weight in coins. To distinguish between older (more silver) coins and new coins, arrows were placed by the date on the obverse, and rays behind the eagle on the reverse. These coins became known as ‘Arrow & Rays’ quarters.

The story does not stop there – the rays meant that the coins were minted in a two part operation. To save on the cost of minting, the rays were removed from 1854 onwards.

This coin (dated 1853 and minted in Philadelphia) is the only year of ‘Arrows & Rays’ quarter mintage.

Now the puzzle begins, who lost the coin in the small parish of Down Hatherley?

Scheduled sailings to America only started in 1833 – 20 years before the coin was minted.

Was the person, who lost the coin, rich enough to travel to America and return? Perhaps a land owner or clergyman?

Was the coin part of trade and barter, brought back by a sailor or military person?