Information about effigy: Standing Liberty by MacNeil

Standing Liberty by MacNeil

The image of Miss Liberty, known as the "Standing Liberty", was created for the quarter dollar which was struck by the United States Mint from 1916 to 1930. The coin succeeded the Barber quarter, which had been minted since 1892, and showed the portrait of Liberty. The Standing Liberty quarter was designed by American sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil.

The design was created in the context of World War One, which was raging in Europe in 1916 but the US had not yet joined it. 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. She holds an olive branch as she strides through a gate in a wall which is inscribed, "In God We Trust", with the "U" in "Trust" shaped (in the original Latin fashion) as a V. MacNeil stated that the obverse depicted Liberty "stepping forward in ... the defence of peace as her ultimate goal". According to art historian Cornelius Vermeule, "Liberty is presented as the Athena of the Parthenon pediments, a powerful woman striding forward" and states that, but for the Stars and Stripes on her shield, "everything else about this Amazon calls to mind Greek sculpture of the period between Pheidias to Praxiteles, 450 to 350 BC".

The Mint required modifications to the initial design, and MacNeil's revised version included dolphins to represent the oceans. In late 1916, Mint officials made major changes to the design without consulting MacNeil. The sculptor complained about the changes after receiving the new issue in January 1917. The Mint obtained special legislation to allow MacNeil to redesign the coin as he desired. One change made by the sculptor was the addition of a chain mail vest that covered Liberty's formerly bare breast.

In circulation, the coin's date wore away quickly, and Mint engravers modified the design in 1925 to address the issue, by putting the date in a recessed area.

The Standing Liberty quarter was discontinued in 1931, a year in which no quarters were struck. This representation of Liberty has been used later on commemorative coins, such as a gold quarter ounce in 2016.

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Royal Mint
Royal Mint
Standing Liberty by MacNeil: Details
Year1916
CountryUnited States
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