Friday, December 12, 2014

Why was there a Type II Standing Liberty Quarter?

If you are familiar with the Standing Liberty Quarter, you've probably heard the story about how a prudish and outraged citizenry caused the Mint to cover up Liberty's bare breast. Here is "The Bare-Breasted Liberty Quarter " telling the tale:
McNeil was obliged to modify his design. Miss Liberty would need to be properly covered, according to the citizens of our enlightened nation. It is easy to imagine that McNeil might have been a little resentful about the modification chore he had to undertake. Rather than simply rearrange the drapery on Liberty's shoulder to cover the offending breast, he crafted a suit of armor instead, and chastely clothed Miss Liberty nearly to the neck in chain mail!
I have no doubt that there were outraged citizens - there always are. In my own home state of Massachusetts, we had the Watch and Ward Society object to the bare breasted figure on the 1896 $5 Silver Certificate, so of course they didn't like this either.

However, the public outcry may not have been the impetus and McNeil wasn't necessarily resentful because of the change. If anything, he may have been resentful of the Type I design because it was a modification of what he had submitted! David Lange makes the case for that in the "Mystery of the 1917 Quarters" link below, asserting
.. the Type 1 quarters of 1916-17 were the Mint's alteration of MacNeil's design and that the Type 2 issue was a restoration of MacNeil's original concept
Or it may have had to do with World War I. The Wikipedia article on this coin mentions that Ray Young suggested in a 1979 Coins Magazine article that the redesign "came from the symbolism. If Liberty was going to stand up to her foes, she should do so fully-protected—not 'naked to her enemies.'"

Whatever the reasons, the Standing Liberty Quarter is a beautiful design.

Watch and Ward Society
1896 $5 Silver Certificate
Silver Certificates
Wikipedia Standing Liberty Quarter

Note: All my coins are in a safe deposit box. I keep nothing in my home.

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