By CoinWeek ….
On Sunday, April 28, bidding ends on GreatCollections for this 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter in PCGS AU-55 and approved by CAC. Only 52,000 Standing Liberty quarters were minted near the end of 1916, the first year of the type’s issue, and of that number PCGS and NGC report 842 grading events at Au-55 and above. NGC gives a total of 317, while PCGS gives 525.
At AU-55 itself, PCGS reports 89 examples graded, while NGC reports 34.
As for the auction history of 1916 Standing Liberty quarters in PCGS AU-55, a specimen was sold earlier this year for $8,500 USD (including buyer’s premium). Last year saw one coin trade for $9,000, and 2017 saw three sales in which the prices realized were higher than that: $9,635 in June; $10,200 in September; and $10,281 in December. The record price for a Type I was achieved in March 2005 when a pedigreed quarter went for $48,300.
For further auction results, you can also search through the GreatCollections Auction Archives, with records for over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold in the past seven years.
At the time of writing, the current bid on the 1916 SLQ is $6,601 after 22 bids.
A Golden Age Design
Charles Barber’s quarter dollar design was introduced only in 1892 but was nevertheless set aside in 1916. Mint Director Robert W. Woolley invited three renown sculptors from outside the Mint to produce designs for the dime, the quarter, and the half dollar. Artist Adolph A. Weinman captured two of the three denominations: the dime and the half dollar. Hermon A. MacNeil’s design, however, was selected for the quarter.
The model for Liberty on the quarter was likely a composite of silent film actor Dora Doscher (also known as Doris Doree) and Broadway actor Irene MacDowell; the latter’s husband apparently disapproving of the pose for perhaps an obvious reason: the partial nudity of Liberty, specifically the undraped right breast.
Supposedly, this nudity led to some controversy, and the Mint decided to change the design of the quarter to ensure Liberty’s modesty. This is not true. Instead, it was the United States’ entry into World War I that precipitated the change, with MacNeil believing that Liberty should be wearing armor under such circumstances.
The new design was first struck in 1917 after some eight million quarters had already been produced using the original artwork, which is now referred to as “Type I” (1916-17).
The obverse of the Type I Standing Liberty quarter displays Liberty standing in the opening of a wall or parapet, right leg resting on the base but left foot raised as if she is walking forward. Her long flowing gown drapes loosely and is wrapped around her right arm, but falls off the shoulders exposing the right breast. It is partly open at the front (the hem held up by a clasp), displaying the right leg to above the knee. On many coins, Liberty’s navel is clearly visible through the thin material. Her left arm holds a circular shield as if in a defensive posture; the shield displays the Union shield and several concentric rings, including a circle of raised dots or rivets near the edge. Liberty’s right arm is extended outward, resting on a portion of the wall, and her hand holds an olive branch. Another loose drapery covers the bottom part of the shield, extends across the front of Liberty, and ends beneath the arm on the top of the wall.
The word LIBERTY arcs across the top of the coin, the L partially covered by the olive branch, and B and E separated by Liberty’s head. Both wall sections display a rectangular panel of horizontal stripes, with IN GOD at the top of the left wall and WE TRUST (the U depicted as a V) similarly located on the right wall. Thirteen five-point stars form two columns along the wall edges next to the opening, seven to the left and six to the right (the top left star follows the D in GOD). The step upon which Liberty stands displays the date in raised numerals. The designer’s initial M is to the right of the bottom star in the right column, and for quarters minted in Denver or San Francisco, the D or S mintmark is located to the right of the bottom star in the left column.
Inside the flat rim is a concentric ornamental ring consisting of two raised angular dots alternating with a short raised bar; the ring is broken by the step that displays the date.
The center of the reverse features an eagle in flight, headed to the right, wings outstretched and raised. Inside the flat rim is a concentric ring of UNITED STATES at the top and QUARTER DOLLAR at the bottom, with seven five-point stars separating UNITED and QUARTER on the left and six five-point stars separating STATES and DOLLAR on the right. Centered dots separate the two words of both the legend and the denomination. OF AMERICA, in two lines and of smaller letters, lies below UNITED STATES; below that text is E PLURIBUS UNUM on two lines; E and PLURIBUS are also separated by a center dot.