Trivia: Slq!

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by Clinker, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. Clinker

    Clinker Coin Collector

    Ah, the often elusive Standing Liberty Quarter. Minted 1916 through 1930 under U.S. Mint director A. M. Joyce.

    As you know, the Standing Liberty Quarter was designed by Hermon Atkins MacNeil. You know his design was submitted as one of many designs in a contest.

    BUT do you know his original winning design was changed shortly after the first patterns were struck?

    Since's website equipment won't recognize enlarged photo direct links, I'll be giving very detailed directions, so you can view the discussed coin. You may follow the directions or disregard them.

    As you know, before striking a coin, patterns of the accepted design are struck to see how the finished coin will appear. Four patterns were struck and sent to the Secretary of the Treasury for final approval.

    All four patterns carried the same obverse, but one pattern's reverse was blank, one had the eagle/stars reverse, and the other two bore a laurel branch reverse.

    Follow these directions and you will see an enlarged photo of the pattern with eagle/stars on reverse. Go to

    and scroll down to Quarters. Click Quarters. Scroll down to J1989/P2050 and click. Click on photo. Notice that two olive leaves obscure the "L" of LIBERTY on the obverse.

    And here's an altered Pattern: Go to

    and scroll down to Quarters. Click Quarters. Scoll to J1988P2048 amd click. Click photo. Notice the "L" is more visible. Also notice no stars on reverse.

    Here's the reason:

    According to Stacks' Hayes sale catalog, "This piece has actually had 2 leaves scratched off the coin."

    Stacks mentions that "the coin apparently is the one mentioned in an October 22, 1916 letter addressed to A.M. Joyce, Superintendent of the U.S. Mint" which is excerpted below.

    "I am returning to you herewith two of the four sample quarters you sent me, one being blank on one side with the reverse design on the other, and the other being your number 4, as submitted in your letter of October 20th."

    "With one slight alteration, the design as it appears on No. 4 is acceptable. The slight alteration referred to is the elimination of the two leaves in the angle of the letter "L" in the word 'Liberty'. You will notice that I have scratched these two leaves off the coin I am returning to you. With this slight change you may go ahead and make up the dies for the finished coin."

    Would you like to see the other two patterns that were originally retained by the Treasury Secretary?
    They now reside in the Smithsonian. Click and scroll to Quarters. Click J1988P1248. Scroll to fifth paragraph. Click on "here." Scoll until both coins are in full view.

    So the dies were finally ready for striking 1916 SLQs. The ready-for-striking dies had one other change: Stars replaced the laurel and oak branches on the reverse.

    Before I show you a photo of the finished product I want to remind you about two important aspects of SLQs that greatly increase their value:

    1). Quality of "strike" and "preservation" of head of liberty on obverse (aka Full head).

    2) Quality of "strike" and "preservation" of stars on the shield.

    Here's a rare opportunity to view a SLQ that has both, courtesy of Coin Facts:

    Isn't that a beauty (desireable)?

    This 1917 is a "Variety 1" specimen (bare breast)

    A public outcry over the exposed breast brought pressure to change the obverse. MacNeil, himself, was called in to do that. Now, Lady Liberty's a fictional character, so, MacNeil, regarding his design as a work of art, decided to radically change her garb. He'd show all those complainers! He put a chain mail breastplate on Lady Liberty and added three stars beneath the eagle on the reverse. Take a look at this 1917-S "Variety 2":

    This design lasted through 1924. Because the dates were raised letters, premature wearing away of the date prompted the mint to recess the date (no other changes were made) on 1925 through 1930 coins.

    Here's an overworn date quarter before 1925:\

    Here's a photo of a 1925 courtesy of Coin Page and roundmetal:

    Thought you'd like to know...

    Clinker - Free Numismatic Fun Website Updated Monthly:

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  3. gewoodfo

    gewoodfo Member

    Great post

    Clinker: GREAT read and so educational!!
  4. Clinker

    Clinker Coin Collector


    Thanks for your "positive" comment...

    This is your first comment on one of my "Trivia" articles and I appreciate it!

  5. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    There was NO public outcry over the bare breast, that is a numismatic urban legend. There has never been any contemporary correspondance found complaining about the breast, no letters to the editor in periodicals, no mention in congressional records, no mention in any mint correspondence.

    In the mint correspondence that does exist concerning the changes in the design between the type I and type II the breast is never mentioned but it does mention the other changes to be made and includes the instruction that no other changes were to be made to the designs except for the ones discussed. The addition of the chain mail was strictly MacNeil's idea and it was done against orders from the Mint.

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Perfect example of what I was talking about in the internet thread - bad information abounds.
  7. rld14

    rld14 Custom User Title

    Excellent post, especially the information on the Patters!
  8. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Not according to what i read. There was a group that took public credit for having it changed.

    Dig through the search on my name and SLQ's for the source, although I admit it was a secondary source and worth primary source verification.

  9. Conder101

    Conder101 Numismatist

    Breen credits Anthony Comestock and the "Society for the Suppression of Vice" for spearheading the effort to have it changed, but that appears to be one of Breen's made up "facts". For one thing Constock was dead at the time and as I said no contemporary reports have ever been found. (One I wouldn't be surprised that if you did a lot of searching through newspapers from around the country you might find a letter to the editor somewhere, but there was no "great public outcry" and Burdette found no mention of it anywhere in the Mint records in the National Archives.)

    I would suggest reading J Cline book on the Standing quarters and Roger Burdette's Renaissance of American Coinage 1916 - 1921 p72 - 89. They both cover this in depth. The letter from the Mint to MacNiel listing the changes to be made and specifying that no changes other than the ones listed are to be made was published in the first edition of Cline's book.

    Even in the legislation passed by Congress (done because they were changing the design.) it states "No changes shall be made in the emblems and devices used. The modifications shall consist of the changing of the position of the eagle, the arrangement of the stars and lettering, and a slight concavity given to the surface. Such changes shall be made and completed on or before July first, nineteen hundred and eighteen." If there had been a great public outcry I would think they would have addressed it, specified the chain mail or some change to her clothing or drapery.
  10. mralexanderb

    mralexanderb Coin Collector

    Great thread. The website is very interesting. There so much to see and learn about the patterns made before the coins enter circulation.

    Thanks again for an excellent thread.

  11. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    I've looked this up and read what you wrote and come to accept your version of likely events.

  12. Leadfoot

    Leadfoot there is no spoon

    Good move, Ruben. He's right. ;)
  13. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member

    Well, evidence is evidence :) The Book burner was indeed dead by 1915 and I read nothing about his predecessor complaining about it. They seemed to be too busy harrasing newspaper journals and such. I'll tell you this, it is an ugly chapter in the history of New York and the US.

  14. spock1k

    spock1k King of Hearts

    i am still unhappy about the time i fell sick and missed out ont he greatest SLQ for the spock collection its a beautiful coin
  15. mrbrklyn

    mrbrklyn New Member


    when was that?

  16. Clinker

    Clinker Coin Collector

    rid14, mralexanderb, and spock1k:

    Thanks for reading and commenting...

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