Standing Liberty Quarters

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The Standing Liberty quarter, introduced by the United States Mint in 1916, is a numismatic gem with a rich history and captivating design. Crafted by the talented sculptor Hermon A. MacNeil, this quarter’s journey from its inception to becoming a coveted collector’s item is a tale worth telling.

In the early 20th century, the United States Mint felt the need for a fresh design for the quarter, a coin that had remained largely unchanged for several decades. The Mint decided to organize a competition to find a new design, opening the doors to creative artists across the nation. Among the entrants, Hermon A. MacNeil stood out with his vision of Lady Liberty standing proudly on the obverse.

MacNeil’s design was a departure from the traditional seated Liberty that had graced the quarter’s face. In this new rendition, Lady Liberty was depicted standing, symbolizing strength and resilience. She held a shield in her left hand, representing the nation’s preparedness to defend itself, and an olive branch in her right hand, signifying the desire for peace. This bold and innovative design captured the spirit of America in a unique way.

The reverse of the coin featured an eagle in mid-flight, exuding an air of freedom and power. The inscriptions “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and “QUARTER DOLLAR” adorned the reverse, providing essential information while preserving the coin’s aesthetic appeal.

However, as often happens with significant departures from tradition, MacNeil’s design was met with controversy. Some quarters found Lady Liberty’s exposed breast on the obverse too risqué for a coin. This issue ignited a heated debate about the coin’s appropriateness for circulation, with opponents arguing that the design was too bold and unconventional.

Despite the initial backlash, Hermon A. MacNeil’s vision was not to be stifled. In 1917, the design was modified to address the concerns raised by the conservative quarters. The most notable change was the addition of chain mail to Lady Liberty’s exposed breast, thus taming the design while still preserving its uniqueness. The reverse was also altered to make the eagle larger and more prominent, enhancing the coin’s overall aesthetic.

With these modifications, the Standing Liberty quarter was not only considered more acceptable but also more majestic. The coin continued to circulate and captivate the American public. Over the years, it became a symbol of the nation’s resilience, especially during the trying times of World War I and beyond.