The Barber Quarter Ornament

The time period of The Capewell Glass Negative Collection reminded me of a Christmas ornament I made fifteen years ago.

In 1995, we bought a rowhome that was built in 1910. It’s a good house in a nice neighborhood, however there was an unfortunate drop ceiling in the living room/dining room. “No problem”, we thought, “we’ll just get rid of it and patch and paint the original ceiling!” Long story short – what was left of the original ceiling was unsalvageable and the ceiling had to come down. It took a few hours with a couple of crowbars to pull it down, and several days to clean up the plaster and lath. It was hot and humid, and we wore these hideous hooded jumpsuits to protect our clothes and skin that made matters worse. I have never been so dirty in all my life.


During the clean up, I spotted something shiny on the floor. I couldn’t tell what it was right away, but when I rinsed it off under the faucet, I realized it was an old quarter. According to my neighbors, it was a custom to put a coin in the ceiling for luck, and as a way of dating the house. The chances of finding that quarter under six inches of rubble was like finding a needle in a haystack. I decided to make a Christmas ornament as an annual reminder of  how insane we were to pull down a plaster ceiling in August!

I did a bit of research this morning and found out that our quarter was designed by Charles Barber , Chief Engraver of The Philadelphia Mint.

According to Wikipedia:

All Barber Coinage saw very heavy and long term use in daily commerce and, consequentially, most surviving examples are heavily worn, this is especially true of the Quarters and Half Dollars. It is frequently said by collectors and dealers that Barber Coinage is full of condition rarities, that is, coins which are very scarce in higher grades.

As you can see, our coin looks to be in pretty good shape. Who knows, it may be worth something!



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