In 1858, the triple-masted Jeanie Johnston sank in the Atlantic Ocean but its crew was fortuitously rescued by a Dutch ship after the crew spent nine days clinging to the mast of the mostly submerged vessel. On its final voyage, the ship was being used to carry timber but was earlier implemented as one of the so-called “famine ships” that brought starving Irish refugees to the North American ports of Quebec, Baltimore and New York during the Potato Famine from 1845 to 1852 and over a course of sixteen voyages. This 1858 quarter recalls the final voyage of a ship that saved thousands of lives.
In keeping with the work that he did on the related Half Dime and Dime, Robert Ball hughes modified Christian Gobrecht's Seated Quarter in 1840 by reducing the size of Liberty's rock, changing some of her proportions and, most significantly, adding extra folds of drapery at her right (facing) elbow. This new Drapery type remained current through early 1853, and it was also used from 1856 through 1865 when the Mint continued Quarter production at the reduced weight standard without either arrows at the date or rays around the reverse eagle.
There are many underrated rarities in the Drapery Seated Quarter series, particularly among the P-mint deliveries of the 1840-1853 era. The 1851-O and 1852-O are also frequently overlooked, particularly in higher circulated and Mint State grades. More readily recognizeable key-date issues include the 1842-O Small Date, 1849-O and all of the S-mint deliveries from 1856 through 1865.