By the late 1880s, there were increasing calls for the replacement of theSeated Liberty design, used since the 1830s on most denominations of silver coins. In 1891,Mint DirectorEdward O. Leech, having been authorized by Congress to approve coin redesigns, ordered a competition, seeking a new look for the silver coins. As only the winner would receive a cash prize, invited artists refused to participate and no entry from the public proved suitable. Leech instructed Barber to prepare new designs for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and after the chief engraver made changes to secure Leech's endorsement, they were approved by PresidentBenjamin Harrisonin November 1891. Striking of the new coins began the following January.
Public and artistic opinion of the new pieces was, and remains, mixed. In 1915, Mint officials began plans to replace them once the design's minimum term expired in 1916. The Mint issued Barber dimes and quarters in 1916 to meet commercial demand, but before the end of the year, theMercury dime,Standing Liberty quarter, andWalking Liberty half dollarhad begun production. Most dates in the Barber coin series are not difficult to obtain, but the 1894 dime struck at theSan Francisco Mint(1894-S), with a mintage of 24, is a great rarity. Wikipedia