In 1916 and early 1917, the United States had not yet entered World War I, but its new Standing Liberty quarter appeared to send a message to the various combatants. Designed by Hermon MacNeil but altered by Philadelphia Mint engravers, the quarter featured Lady Liberty standing between the words "In God We Trust." A shield is in her left hand, and an olive branch is in her right, as if to say the nation was ready to protect itself yet still offered peace.

That not-so-subtle political message had barely entered into circulation when the Treasury Department allowed MacNeil to reflect the rapid approach of the war. By February 1917, Lady Liberty was clad in a sleeveless top of tightly linked chain mail—Liberty was prepared for battle.

That same year, the coin’s reverse was also tweaked to return to MacNeil's preferred design—the eagle was moved up a bit to make room for three stars. Except for placing the date in a protected recess from 1925 on, the design remained unchanged until the coin’s last year of issue, 1930.

Even though the 1916 coin had a small run, it is not the most prized Standing Liberty for collectors. That would be the 1918 quarter minted in San Francisco. The San Francisco Mint struck more than 11-million quarters that year, but some of them clearly show that the "8" in 1918 has been struck over the "7" in 1917. Today, this "over-date" coin is not only the most sought-after coin in the Standing Liberty series, it is one of the most coveted U.S. coins, period.

Quarters dated 1919 are also scarce in most conditions. The only other year in the series that includes a rare issue is 1927. Although there are plenty of Philadelphia coins from 1927 (almost 12 million) and a decent number of Standing Liberty quarters from Denver (just under a million), but the San Francisco Mint only produced 396,000 of the quarters, making 1927-S an expensive hole to fill in one’s collection.

No Standing Liberty quarters were struck in 1931 or '32 due to a lack of demand during the Great Depression. Standing Liberty quarters were replaced with the George Washington design in 1932.


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