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1917 Standing Liberty Quarter

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Registered: August 2005
Location: Arizona USA
Posts: 2,362
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Not a great photo, it's encapsulated in a PCGS holder. Design by Hermon A. MacNeil. This Variety 1 was soon redesigned in 1917 for reasons unknown, however, the main change covered the exposed breast of Ms. Liberty in chain mail and the shield rivet numbers were reduced. The U.S. Mint says the design had to be changed because of 'striking difficulties' that only some chain mail over the offending breast could cure. Other modifications were made on the reverse (eagle higher, stars added, etc). Naturally, this is a must have variety. This is a Philly strike with 8.74 M minted. The Variety 2 1917 P had 13.88 M minted and the other mints showed similar mintage disparity. A 'Top 10' design, no other US Quarter comes close in beauty. Mint luster complete! This coin was purchased as a straight MS64 in a very early PCGS holder. As a promotion (World Coin News) from PCGS they offered to slab one coin for free. I was overseas (Germany ~1980 -81) at the time in the military. I cut he old holder open with a hack saw (it wasn't that easy trying to ensure no damage to this beauty) and sent it in. I did this because I was convinced that would grade higher, and it seems the Full Head designation was a new enhancement. Sure enough it came back in the same grade but with the FH designation. Is it now worth more as an FH or would it bring more in an earlier PCGS holder?

The Birth of the Standing Liberty Quarter:
America was at war: World War I was raging in Europe, and at home industrial technology continued to advance at breakneck pace. A style of artistic construction called Art Nouveau, characterized by elegant, flowing lines, and new freedoms of expression, reached its peak of popularity in America, as the musty old conservative ethic of the long Victorian Era finally breathed its last gasps.
Surely placing a topless Miss Liberty on our coinage would be okay; we're an enlightened nation, right?
Of course, Mint officials didn't plot to put bare-breasted ladies on our quarters! A competition was held, and several top sculptors were invited to submit designs to be considered for use on the coinage.
The design selected for the quarter dollar was Hermon A. McNeil's, which depicts Miss Liberty standing between two large pedestals, holding an olive branch in her right hand, and a shield in her left. She wears a flowing garment that slips off her right shoulder to expose her breast.
Liberty's Bared Breast - Wartime Propaganda?:
There has been much speculation into why McNeil's design was selected and what the symbolism meant. The olive branch Liberty holds is a universal sign of peacemaking. The shield is clearly a symbol of warfare and defense. And Liberty's exposed breast? Was this wartime propaganda meant to imply, "come get your succor from the breast of the world's mother?" Or was it meant to say, "I come in peace, opening myself to you in earnestness?" History does not record the answer.
The dies for the 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter were ready for production by July of 1916. But production didn't begin until the last half of December that same year. Why the delay?
Could it be that some persons who had seen the coin design had objected, and the delay was the result of discussions and re-thinking things?
Perhaps the mint was just really busy producing other coins? Two other new designs were issued that year as well. Again, history doesn't tell; we can only speculate.
The 1916 production run of Standing Liberty Quarters consisted of 52,000 pieces, all of which were produced at the Philadelphia facility, and all of which left the mint by December 29, 1916. This small mintage made its way through the Treasury distribution system in early January of 1917, and awaited release into circulation. In the meantime, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Denver began striking the 1917 Standing Liberty Quarters, and sent them out for
On January 17 of 1917, the bare-breasted Standing Liberty Quarter finally entered circulation, and the outcry was immediate and loud. Religious leaders used words like "obscene" and "filthy" to describe the visage of our beautiful Miss Liberty with her breast exposed. Citizens' groups rallied their memberships to lobby Congress to have the disgusting coin recalled. Congress had little choice but to submit to the clamor. The bare-breasted Liberty Quarters began disappearing from
McNeil was obliged to modify his design. Miss Liberty would need to be properly covered, according to the citizens of our enlightened nation. It is easy to imagine that McNeil might have been a little resentful about the modification chore he had to undertake. Rather than simply rearrange the drapery on Liberty's shoulder to cover the offending breast, he crafted a suit of armor instead, and chastely clothed Miss Liberty nearly to the neck in chain mail!
The Standing Liberty Quarter needed a third design change starting in 1925 because the date was wearing off too quickly. The design was re-cut so that the date was recessed, rather than raised. A summary of the Standing Liberty Quarter types:
Type I (Pattern) Judd; The J-1989 pattern differs from the regular 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter in several ways: It is missing the “M” designer’s initial to the right of the date and it has a different style olive branch near the “L” in “LIBERTY”. Extremely RARE.
Type I - Liberty's right breast exposed (1916-1917)
Type II - Liberty clothed, 3 stars below eagle on reverse (1917-1924)
Type III - Same as II, but date is recessed (1925-1930)
One major error variety is recognized - the 1918 8-over-7 repunched date. (edited from
For a 'Numismatist' article on these iconic coins, see this: [ link ]
The Grey Sheet has an excellent article on the history and controversies of this wonderful coin type: [ link ]
· Date: January 6, 2008 · Views: 12,144 · Filesize: 117.2kb · Dimensions: 890 x 449 ·
Keywords: Standing Liberty Quarter
Denomination: 25 Cents
Reference #: Y29a
Date/Mintmark: 1917 Variety 1
Condition: MS64 FH - PCGS (Blue Card, rattler case)
Weight: 6.25 gm; 24.3 mm
Metal: .900 Silver

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