Miss Liberty’s Wardrobe Failure

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One of the first coins that caught my interest and got me hooked on collecting U.S. Coins was the famous “Standing Liberty” Quarter. Standing Liberty Quarters are hugely popular among all types of collectors. It’s a fairly easy series to complete in the lower grades as many millions were minted for each year. Especially the Philadelphia mint (those coins without a mintmark) were minted in very high numbers. The 1917-Type1 mintage was 8,740,000 for example) And to make this coin even more interesting there are 3 widely recognized versions (i.e. Type 1, 2a, 2b) and the story behind these changes is the very reason behind it’s popularity in my opinion.

Standing Liberty Quarters were minted from 1916 – 1930.

Did you know ? There are no 1931 quarters at all (Washington Quarter first year was 1932)

Type 1: The Wardrobe Failure
The initial Obverse design of Lady Liberty exposed her right breast completely and this caused a bit of an outcry in the public’s opinion and was quickly changed in 1917. There are plenty of 1917 Standing Liberty quarters with the initial design (type 1) minted prior to the change. However finding them in the higher grades is very challenging and will cost significantly more than the lower grades. A typical 1917-T1 (EF40) is very affordable and fairly easy to find.

Type 2a: The Mail Coat of Armour
The updated 1917 (Type 2a) makeover design covered Lady Liberty’s upper chest with a coat of mail ending the controversy. On the reverse side three of the stars originally located around the edge of the coin were moved underneath the Eagle. The Eagle was moved upwards to center it more vertically.

Type 2b: Date Recessed
In 1925 the design of the date was changed so that it was recessed in to the pedestal on which Lady Liberty is standing in an effort to increase the durability of the date. This final change created Type 2b. Standing Liberty quarters are often classified by either “non recessed dates”(1916-1924) or “recessed dates” (1925-1930)

Grading: The better grades will show full rivets and details on Liberty’s shield. The very best grades show a “Full Head” with all details and is the most desirable (and expensive) as these areas of the coin wore very easily. I’ve included some graphics below for reference.


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