1840-O LIBERTY SEATED 25C, DRAPERY MS65
DRAPERY. GEM SURFACES. TIED WITH ANOTHER FOR HIGHEST GRADED.
The beautiful Seated Liberty designed by Christian Gobrecht made its first appearance on the dime and half-dime in 1837, followed by the quarter-dollar in 1838 and finally the half dollar by 1839. This roll out was to uphold the uniformity policy put in place by the first mint director in 1792 in which all coins of the same metal must feature the same design. Much like the other Seated Liberty denominations, the quarter dollar also experienced frequent design turnover that was mostly various engraver modifications of the infamous liberty head designs. As a result, treasury officials felt it was time for a more permanent design which gave Gobrecht the opportunity he had wanted for years. As with the other coins, the obverse of the quarter features a seated Lady Liberty with staff in hand surrounded by stars. The reverse follows a similar eagle design as the previous Reich design, but with a widened more masculine neck, and included the denomination, date and UNITED STATES legend. For the first eighteen years of the Seated Liberty- despite alterations in 1840, 1853, and 1856- the quarter dollar was minted without the IN GOD WE TRUST motto, but was eventually added in 1866. This particular coin was minted the same year that the first- arguably unnecessary- modification took place. Robert Patterson, for some reason or another, felt the design needed a rework so he hired Robert Ball Hughes who simply added a fold of drapery behind liberty’s left arm and generally fattened the design as some will attest. This newest addition to the coin was later dubbed the Drapery variety in the numismatic community which made the previous design the No Drapery variety. The latter was only minted in Philadelphia from 1838 to 1839 and for part of the year at the New Orleans mint in 1840 which makes it a true treasure. In fact most of these Seated Liberty coins that pre-date 1853 are extremely difficult to find in mint states thanks to poorly executed strikes in this era and the massive silver melt down in 1853 that followed the California gold rush.
While Patterson may have hoped that Hughes’ alterations would be the rebirth of the two-year-old design in 1840, the English language experienced a true beginning when the term “OK” sprouted into common vernacular for the first time. . For years I have personally wondered where the term “OK” came from since it was obviously an abbreviation but I had no idea what it stood for. Upon researching this 1840-O Seated Liberty I finally found my answer. Many scholars have argued about the phrases origins for nearly two-centuries, author and historian Arthur Metcalf pinpoints its origins to the Boston Morning Post in 1839 and it popularization in 1840. Based on Metcalf’s research, young educated elitist in the mid-nineteenth century got a kick out of misspelled words or phrases that they would then turn into abbreviations. An example of this joke is K.G. which was a frequently used term during the era, which stood for “Know Go” which of course was the improper way to spell “no go.” It is obvious this joke is a sort of you-had-to-be-there type of thing because it has certainly lost its humor since, but by 1840 it was not uncommon to see abbreviations across society. Even newspapers participated in this “joke,” especially writers who frequented sarcasm within their writing. One particular author, Charles Gordon Greene, parodied and attacked other newsprints in his pieces for the Boston Morning Post. On March 23, 1839 another one of Greene’s throwaway pieces which took jabs at the Providence Newspaper appeared in the paper. This one, however, ended with the sentence: “O.K. all correct” in which O.K. stood for, “oll korrect” which was the misspelled version of “all correct.” His attempt was no folly and soon this fun jab appeared all across East Coast newspapers. However it was not until the election of 1840 that the funny-phrase truly took off. As a major opponent to previous President Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, created memorable slogans like “Tippecanoe and Tyler too” that highlighted his past battle victories and showcased his vice president. Van Buren knew he what he was up against with the massively popular Whig party and decided to jump onto the slogan band wagon which he knew would spark a memorable impression. Van Buren utilized the popularized O.K. but gave it to his autogenous nickname “Old Kinderhook” which stemmed from his hometown of Kinderhook, New York. Soon, Democrats across the U.S. created O.K. Clubs to promote their candidate and his new nickname morphed into a double-meaning: “O.K. is all correct.” Unfortunately O.K. was not all correct for the nation as William Harrison swept the presidency by 234 to 60 electoral votes. Perhaps the real victor here however is the now commonly used phrase OK because after 1840 it had fully perpetuated English slang and appeared several more times throughout history.