PCGS 5712 - Standing Liberty Quarter Dollar, Stars Below Eagle (1917-1930)
Navigate to PCGS numbers: Standing Liberty Quarter Dollar, Stars Below Eagle (1917-1930)
President Theodore Roosevelt had initiated using Classical design motifs for our gold coins, and now, as the Coinage Act of 1890 had authorized, it was time to change the smaller silver coins. U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber's "uninspired" design had marked the quarter, dime and half dollar for the preceding quarter century, and the public was ready for something different. It was the perfect opportunity to issue a coin that, as a contemporary government report put it, "was intended to typify in a measure the awakening interest of the country to it's own protection."
The first Standing Liberty Quarter coins came of the Philadelphia presses on December 16, 1916 and the series continued through 1930. A mere 52,000 pieces were minted in those last two weeks of 1916 and were released to the public along with 1917 dated coins in early 1917. Legend has it that shortly after the release there was a public outcry over the exposed right breast of Lady Liberty. Others complained that the small eagle looked like a pigeon. Whether this led to the design change is not well documented as there were also stacking issues with the Type I coins. In any event, the design was changed in 1917 to cover the right breast with chain-mail as well as minor changes to the back of the coin which moved three stars beneath the eagle, thereby raising and centering the eagle. Thus was born the Type II Standing Liberty Quarter.
After a few years in circulation it became apparent that the date was wearing off way to fast. Unlike the Buffalo Nickel, someone at the mint did make changes and in 1925, the date area was lowered as to be protected by the rim of the coin resulting longer wear on the date field. Thus was born Type III which many consider a subtype.
In production for only fifteen years, the Standing Liberty quarter suffered an early demise. 1932 marked the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth was introduced as a circulating commemorative which is still in circulation today.
A competition was held to select the design. The artist chosen was a prominent sculptor of the day, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, who was known for his works dealing with Indians and American history, particularly on public buildings and monuments. MacNeil's obverse design features a frontal view of Liberty, a portrayal reminiscent of ancient Greek sculpture, with an olive branch of peace in her right hand. Her left arm is raised, holding a shield in a posture of protection. A mixed message certainly, but one that told our European neighbors we were ready for anything, peace or war. The inscription LIBERTY is at the top of the obverse, with the motto IN GOD WE TRUST flanking the figure of Liberty and the date below.
There are two major design varieties of Standing Liberty quarters, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 was issued for only two years, 1916-1917, as there was quite an uproar about Miss Liberty's "bare breast." The coin was called "obscene" in some circles. In 1917, the design was modified, and the breast was from then on covered with chain mail. Type 2, issued from 1917 through 1930, was substantially reworked, but the most evident changes were the repositioning of the stars on the reverse along with the chain mail on Miss Liberty mentioned earlier. The design also had a minor change in 1925, which some consider a sub-type. It seems that the date area was raised on earlier coins so that the date wore off too rapidly. To remedy this situation, the date area was recessed for all further coinage.
The reverse, as mandated by law, depicts an American eagle, here shown in full flight, with the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and motto E PLURIBUS UNUM, above, and the denomination Quarter Dollar below. The final product seems to reflect the influence of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was the most famous sculptor of the time and a mentor some years earlier for Mr. MacNeil.
- Weight: 6.25 grams nominal
- Diameter: 23.4 mm
- Composition: .900 fine silver
- Rim: Reeded.
Prices realized from past auction lots. (PCGS Holder)
PCGS Price Guide 
- Breen, Walter H., Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U. S. and Colonial Coins, New York: Doubleday, 1987.
- Coin Community Family
- Keith Scott
- Yeoman, R. S., and Kenneth Bressett (ed.), A Guide Book of United States Coins, 59th Ed., Atlanta, GA: Whitman Publishing, 2005.
- U.S. Mint
1917 25C Type I - Type II Comparison - Both examples graded by PCGS were MS65, however the top specimen graded MS65FH. To qualify for this designation, the coin must exhibit the following three features: three leaves in Liberty's hair must be totally visible, the hairline along Liberty's brow must be complete and the ear indentation must be evident.
The east entrance's architrave bears the legend, "Justice the Guardian of Liberty." A sculpture group by Herman A. McNeil is located above the east entrance that represents great lawgivers, Moses, Confucius, and Solon, flanked by symbolic groups representing Means of Enforcing the Law, Tempering Justice with Mercy, Carrying on Civilization, and Settlement of Disputes Between States.