Standing Liberty Coin Returns in Gold

August 3rd, 2016 by

Collectors of U.S. coins are ecstatic that, after a century, Standing Liberty is back!

Collector Buzz

One of the most admired and distinctive coin designs is reappearing for the first time in 86 years. As part of a series of three gold coins celebrating the 100th anniversary of designs introduced in 1916, the Standing Liberty Quarter will be offered in gold by the U.S. Mint this year.

2016 Standing Liberty Gold Coin
©2016 US Mint

The Gold Standing Liberty is the second of three coins being released this year that honor the centennial of Hermon A. MacNeil’s quarter dollar design, as well as Adolph Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar and Mercury dime designs. All three made their debut in 1916 and are considered the upper echelon of U.S. coin artwork in terms of beauty and symbolism.

The Gold Mercury dime went on sale earlier this year. All three designs are struck (or will be struck) in extra-pure .9999 fine gold. The new Standing Liberty gold coin goes on sale September 8th at noon EST.

Standing Liberty Background

As shown in the image above, the new gold bullion coin uses the same obverse and reverse designs created by Hermon MacNeil that appeared on the original coin issued with a quarter-dollar denomination in silver in the early 20th century. It was minted between 1916 and 1930.

No quarters were minted in 1931 due to the extreme economic conditions of the Great Depression.

Most notably, this year’s gold versions of the Standing Liberty quarter will use the Type I design that was only struck in its first year of issue, 1916, and in part of 1917. It depicts Lady Liberty holding a shield and an olive branch as she stands in the gate of a wall that is emblazoned with the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.” One of her bare breasts is exposed, the first such U.S. coin design to do so.

Standing Liberty Quarter

Photo John Baumgart [Public Domain]

During its second year, a slightly modified Type II design was used. According to Paul Gilkes of Coin World, “MacNeil’s original design was subsequently changed in 1917 with chain mail added to cover Miss Liberty’s exposed right breast.” Interestingly, MacNeil himself was the one who added the chain mail, perhaps to placate critics who found the exposed breast to be crude.

By most accounts, the design embodied the United States’ desire for peace but preparedness for war. Compared to an earlier proposal that showed Miss Liberty holding a sword, “MacNeil’s accepted obverse is only slightly less militaristic; his Liberty faces to the viewer’s right (heraldic east) in the direction of the European war, and her shield faces in that direction as well.”

As for the flying eagle on the reverse of the coin, the renowned art historian Cornelius Vermeule characterized the Standing Liberty reverse as the last U.S. coin that opted for a naturalistic portrayal of a bald eagle as opposed to an heraldic pose.


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