The Standing Liberty Quarter was produced every year from 1916 to 1930, with the exception of 1922. When the coin was initially released in 1916, World War I was in full swing, and the United States declared war against Germany the following year. Designed by the American sculptor, Herman A. MacNeil, the Standing Liberty Quarter not only represented a nation ready to fight in the Great War but also a country in search of peace.
MacNeil’s obverse design depicts a standing Lady Liberty facing right and holding a shield in her left hand. A piece of drapery extends from the shield to her right hand, which is holding an olive branch. She is also wearing a coat of chainmail; however, the first subtype of the coin displays Liberty exposing her right breast. Seven stars are shown to the left of the figure, and six stars to the right. The inscription LIBERTY is at the top of the coin and split by Liberty’s head, with the mintage year below. Across the center of the coin is the engraving IN GOD WE TRUST.
On the reverse is an American eagle in full flight, with three stars below and five stars on each side of the bird. Above the eagle are the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM. Below the three stars featured under the eagle is the denomination QUARTER DOLLAR.
In 1915, United States Mint engraver, Charles E. Barber was ordered to come up with new designs for the Quarter, Dime and Half Dollar to replace the existing Barber coinage. The Commission of Fine Arts was less than impressed with his sketches and decided to ask New York-based sculptors, Albin Polasek, Adolph A. Weinman and Hermon A. MacNeil to submit designs instead.
Polasek’s designs were not up to scratch, so Adolph A. Weinman was awarded both the Dime (Mercury Dime) and the Half Dollar (Walking Liberty Half Dollar). MacNeil was given the job of designing the Quarter, now known as the Standing Liberty Quarter.
Born in Everett, Massachusetts, MacNeil was an art school graduate and a former instructor in industrial art at Cornell University. He later studied under French sculptors, Henri M. Chapu and Alexandre Falguiere in Paris. MacNeil also helped with the sketch models for the World’s Columbian Exposition and won the Rinehart scholarship. His most notable works include the Standing Liberty Quarter and the Guardian of Liberty of the United States Supreme Court building.
The Standing Liberty Quarter series consists of three major subtypes including Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. Type 1 coins were issued from 1916 to 1917 and are those that feature Liberty with an exposed breast. Many people believed it was inappropriate to show Liberty with a bare breast, so it was covered with a coat of chainmail in 1917. This means that some 1917 Standing Liberty Quarters will show Liberty’s bared breast, while others will show her wearing chainmail.
Type 2 Standing Liberty Quarters were issued between 1917 and 1930 with the chainmail on Liberty and changes to the stars on the reverse. All the coins originally showed the eagle with six stars to the right and seven stars to the left. Halfway through 1917, the stars were repositioned to display five stars each side of the eagle and three stars below.
In 1925, the Type 3 “Recessed Date” Standing Liberty Quarter was minted. The date on the earlier coins was quite high and wore away easily, so it was recessed below the rim to protect it from wear. As a result of originally being too high, the date is illegible on most of the coins struck between 1917 and 1924.
Standing Liberty Quarters were produced at three separate mints including Philadelphia (no mintmark), San Francisco (S) and Denver (D). When trying to locate a mintmark, look to the left of the date and Liberty’s foot on the obverse. Although proof coins were never authorized, it is believed that a few do exist dated 1916 and 1917.
The key date in the series is the 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, with a very low mintage of just 52,000. Then there’s the 1918/7 overdate from the San Francisco Mint, which is extremely rare in all grades. When it comes to rare Type 3 pieces, the 1926-S and 1927-S are challenging to find in high grades and displaying Liberty with a full head. Having said that, pretty much all Standing Liberty Quarter dates with a fully struck head are scarce. The Type 2 1918-S struck with an unused 1917-S die is even rarer and will cost substantially more than other specimens.
If you would like to get your hands on a specific Standing Liberty Quarter date, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. As always, Capital Gold Group welcomes all inquiries, so be sure to call us or send us a message via our Contact page.