1868 marks the completion of the Lawley Toll Road that connected the Silverado mining camp to the closest railway yards in Lake County, California. The construction was the brainchild of John Lawley, who saw the need for an expedited route on which to bring the silver and gold from the Bay Area mining camp, and was completed for a grand total of $15,600. Could this 1868 quarter, minted in nearby San Francisco, have been used to pay the exorbitant toll to carry precious metals to the railroad?
As with the Half Dollar and Silver Dollar of the same design, the Seated Quarter was modified in 1866 by the addition of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to the upper-reverse field. The scroll upon which the motto is inscribed was designed by Chief Engraver James Barton Longacre.
The Motto Seated Quarter was struck from 1866-1873 and then again from 1875 through the series' end in 1891. The interruption in production of this type during 1873 and 1874 is the result of the addition of arrows at the date to signify a slight weight increase for the denomination. The arrows were dropped after just two years, after which the Motto type resumed.
Numerous rarities can be found in the Motto Seated Quarter series. Chief among these are the Carson City Mint issues from 1870-1873. The 1875-CC and 1878-CC are also scarce in an absolute sense and quite rare in high grades. The P-mint issues of 1866-1873 No Arrows are elusive in all grades, and the S-mint deliveries from the same era are rare and seldom encountered except in the lowest circulated grades. Due to the repatriation of silver coinage that had been exported during the Civil War, as well as the federal government's desire to concentrate on the new Morgan Dollar, Seated Quarter production at the Philadelphia Mint was very limited from 1879 through 1890. These issues are all scarce and highly popular among numismatists, particularly in business strike format. Finally, the only New Orleans Mint delivery in the Motto Quarter series is also one of the rarest. The final-year 1891-O was produced to the extent of just 6,800 pieces, and examples are seldom encountered in any grade.