1873 saw an event known as the Second Battle of the Stronghold, an engagement that was part of the Modoc War. The battle featured some fifty soldiers attempting to route the substantial Modoc force from their fortified position in the lava beds of northeastern California. The attack was successful and accomplished with few casualties on each side. This 1873 quarter recalls a pivotal moment in the Modoc Wars.
An omnibus bill, the Mint Act of February 12, 1873 resulted in many changes in the United States coinage system. The one that most conerns us here is the bill's attempt to introduce the metric system into the nation's coinage. For the Quarter, this meant a slight weight increase from 6.22 grams to 6.25 grams. Congress mandated that the new coins were to bear a distinguishing mark and, looking back to similar circumstances during the mid-1850s, the Mint once again selected arrows flanking the obverse date as this feature. Authorities deemed that the arrows would be necessary for just two years from 1873-1874, after which coinage continued at the new weight standard without a distinguishing mark. As a two-year type, the Arrows, Motto Seated Quarter has long enjoyed strong collector and investor demand. Mintages for the two proof deliveries of this type are roughly commensuate with those of other Seated Quarters from this era, but heightened interest means that the 1873 Arrows and 1874 can both be quite elusive from a market availability standpoint. This is particularly true of coins that grade at or above Proof-65.