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Half Cents

Standing Liberty Quarters (1916-1930)

The quarter has been struck with few interruptions from the beginning of U.S. coinage to the present day. These were sanctioned originally in the Coinage Act of 1792, and the quarter has been one of the foundational coins of the U.S. monetary system from that point to the present day. They were first minted in 1796. The Standing Liberty type ran from 1916 to 1930, when it was replaced by the Washington.

Standing Liberty Quarter Design

The Standing Liberty came after the Barber, and it ran from 1916 to 1930. These coins were created as a replacement for the Barber designs because the director of the U.S. Mint, Robert W. Woolley, thought that the 25-year minimum for a new coin design was actually a mandate to create a new coin when the time period was up.

Woolley and the Commission of Fine Arts worked together on the Silver coins including the dime, quarter and half dollar. Many were agitating for the replacement of the Barber coins as part of an ongoing refresh to make the coins more beautiful. Not all were pleased by this. Chief Engraver Barber, long an advocate for practicality over aesthetics, provided some roadblocks to the process though he eventually did put the designs through.

The original suggestion had been for the Mint to create new designs, and Barber had done so. The commission did not appreciate the sketches Barber submitted and recruited sculptors to create designs. Adolph Weinman, Hermon MacNeil and Albin Polasek were the three selected. Weinman’s designs were used in their entirety for the dime and the half dollar. MacNeil designed the quarter, and none of Polasek’s designs were selected.

The new coins were publicly announced on March 3, 1916. With these design refreshes, all American coins would have a new design. This was also the first time that there was a clearly different design between all different coins, as many of the older designs were used for multiple coins with minor modifications.

The Standing Liberty design shows Liberty in something of a militaristic posture, holding a shield in one hand and an olive branch in the other as she walks through a gate in a wall. This obverse came from Adolph Weinman. The reverse depicts an eagle in flight, similar to the Gobrecht dollar obverse. This design went through a few revisions before its creation and pattern coins exist with a variety of changes, but when MacNeil saw the changes the Mint had made without his input he was highly critical and the new quarters that were struck did not leave the mint. Liberty’s bare breast on the 1916 and some 1917 quarters was covered in the latter runs during 1917. These 1917 quarters are popular among collectors as they will collect both Type 1 (bare breast) and Type II (covered breast). The only other significant change came in 1925 when modifications were made to make the date last longer — and subsequent issues are more likely to have an intact date because of this change which lowered the relief.

Historical Significance

This coin had a short run as circulating coins go, but it coincided with the Great Depression, and it is missing a year because of the Great Depression causing such a lull in commerce. 1931 quarters do not exist.

Numismatic Value

Condition for these plays a key role in their value, as many were well circulated. In general the older the coin is, the more valuable it is. Which is usually not the case for any series. Branch mint versions are also more valuable than regular issues, particularly in high grades and early issues. The 1916 is a key date, and high grade specimens are hard to find due to the problems with dates wearing off.

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