1840 Liberty Seated Quarter Dollar - Transitional Reverses

by Greg Johnson


Once in a while I get asked questions by those who know of my interest in Liberty Seated quarter die varieties. One of the questions that has come up several different times is, “How do I tell a new reverse hub 1840 quarter (Briggs reverse B) from the transitional reverse (Briggs reverse A)?” I think that a big reason this question gets asked is that there is an error in Larry Briggs’ The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Liberty Seated Quarters (Lima, OH 1991). The error is that the photograph labeled “New Hub Design Reverse 2-B” is actually an example of the transitional reverse A. This is the same die that is pictured on the previous page and labeled as reverse A. The book, overall, is a remarkably complete and accurate reference; however, it is not perfect, and in this case a typographical error leads to some confusion.
The keys to attributing the 1840 reverses are the eagle’s claws and the lettering in AMERICA. The shield lines can also be used to reliably distinguish the two dies in coins graded high enough for them to be visible. One should also note that the descriptions provided in Briggs’ book are quite detailed and accurate for these two dies – it is only the picture that is inaccurate.

Reverse A – “…”AM” of “AMERICA” touch at base. Long curved claws. Middle and last talons of both claws are long, curved and noticeably separated from each other….Vertical line #6 extends to the fourth horizontal line…A die scratch is in the dentils above and past last “S” of “STATES”.”

Reverse B – “…Thick letters in legend with base of “AM” and “RI” touching. Long curved claws. Middle and last talon of both claws are long, curved, and virtually closed, touching and nearly touching each other respectively. Tip of left talon on left claw curled and virtually touches berry stem….Vertical line #4 extends to horizontal line #5….A die scratch is in dentil over right serif of “U” in “UNITED”.”

The two reverses are illustrated in the photos below. Hopefully this will help alleviate some of the confusion.


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