The Standing Liberty Quarter was released by the U.S. Mint in 1916 as part of an motion that was put into place by the Director of the Mint Robert W. Woolley to replace the Dime, Quarter, and Half dollar that year. The coin was initially designed by Hermon A. MacNeil, who’s original design was ordered to be revised by the U.S. Mint. After receiving MacNeil’s revised version, the Mint officials made further changes to the design, without the knowledge of MacNeil!
The initial mintage design of the Standard Liberty Quarter was not without its flaws and criticisms however… and it went through a couple of changes throughout the years. The most significant changes took place in 1917, just one year after it’s initial release. After hearing that the coins went to production in the newspapers, MacNeil sent a letter that included a $5 money order to receive 20 pieces of the new quarter. MacNeil highly criticized the changes, and ultimately the mint allowed him to make modifications to the quarter, which is where the Type 2 comes in.
The significant changes to the Type 2 (as seen on the left with red arrows) were the head and chest of Lady Liberty, and the position of the stars and the eagle on the reverse. MacNeil modified Lady Liberty’s head and covered her bare breast with a chain tunic. Then he raised the eagle up higher on the reverse of the coin (he thought that the eagle looked as though it was landing), and move 3 of the 13 stars on the reverse to the underbelly of the eagle.
The Type 3 came about after the mint realized in late 1924 that they were receiving the quarters back with the date completely missing from the coin. Rather than using another act of congress to change redesign the coin again, they decided to simply recess the area the date was on to better protect it. This was a very simple change, and it went a long way to preserving the dates of later date Standing Liberty quarters.
Because of the differences in these coins, it is actually quite easy to tell the difference between a Type 1, 2, and 3 even in the date is completely missing off of the coin!
Now for a fun but of information… at the beginning of this post I mentioned that the Standing Liberty Quarter was revised by the mint without MacNeil’s knowledge? Behold… the ORIGINAL design of the Standing Liberty Quarter.
Notice the dolphins at the bottom… it was meant to represent the oceans “From Sea to Shining Sea”. This original design, in my opinion, was the best. It’s a shame they changed it without even consulting MacNeil.