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HomeAuctionsKey Date 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter Offered at GreatCollections

Key Date 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter Offered at GreatCollections

Key Date 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter Offered at GreatCollections

By CoinWeek ….
On Sunday, May 16, bidding ends at GreatCollections.com for this rare key date 1916 Standing Liberty quarter, graded MS-61 by NGC with the Full Head (FH) designation. It is also approved by CAC as strong for the grade.

At the time of writing, the MS-61 FH 1916 Standing Liberty quarter currently on offer is a relative bargain, with a high bid of $9,994 after eight bids.

The coin offers pleasing goldenrod toning on the obverse and reverse and is one of an estimated 600-800 examples of the issue that survive in Mint State. The current NGC population report for examples at MS61FH is just 13 coins. The Full Head designation is given to fully struck examples of the type, where the entire detail of Liberty’s head is apparent.

This quarter is one of hundreds of CAC-approved coins offered at GreatCollection’s weekly online auctions.

To search through GreatCollection’s archive of over 600,000 certified coins the company has sold over the past seven years, please visit the GreatCollections Auction Archives.

Background of the Standing Liberty Quarter

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.

As with all Standing Liberty quarters, the edge of the 1916 issue is reeded.

GreatCollections, the official auction house of the American Numismatic Association (ANA), specializes in auctioning certified coins and banknotes, handling transactions from start to finish. Since its founding in 2010, GreatCollections has successfully auctioned over one million certified coins, making it one of the leading certified coin companies in the United States, with annual sales in 2021 exceeding $235 million. Ian Russell, owner/president of GreatCollections, is a member of the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG) and a member of the National Auctioneers Association.

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  1. “Key Date 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter”
    – I did not know the Standing Liberty Quarter even had a date on it…nearly all of the ones that I have seen, had the date worn off.
    What a poor design!

    Nice to know some of the original specimens survived.

    • I agree 100%. The date was simply too high relative to the surrounding metal and got the most wear. I remember reading that during the 1920s the Mint finally recessed the date field, but not until millions of over-worn quarters were in circulation.

      There was a similar problem with the date field on Indian Head nickels, which accounts for the huge numbers of dateless specimens in dealers’ grab boxes.

  2. To explain the use of “V” rather than “U” in the word TRUST: During the early 20th century there was a fad (if you will) among designers to use the Roman alphabet rather than the English one. Latin lacked the letters U and J; those two characters were a much later addition. V and I served as both vowels and consonants (AND numerals!) much like English does with the letter Y. You had to decode the sound based on context. It would hfor example be perfectly normal for a Roman to write the name of their first emperor as GAIVS IVLIVS CAESAR rather than Gaius Julius.

    [Grammar quibble: the three invited sculptors should be described as RENOWNED rather than “renown”, a word that’s (forgive me) renowned for being a noun.]


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