Coin Specifications

Category: Standing Liberty Quarters (1916-1930)
Mint: Philadelphia
Mintage: 52,000
Catalog: KM-141
Obverse Designer: Hermon A. MacNeil
Reverse Designer: Hermon A. MacNeil
Composition: Silver
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 6.25g
ASW: 0.1808oz
Melt Value: $3.39 (8/27/2016)
Diameter: 24.3mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
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1916 STANDING 25C MS obverse 1916 STANDING 25C MS reverse

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Description & Analysis

Few issues demonstrate the deleterious effect of political aspiration on coinage history better than the Type One Standing Liberty quarter. Pursuant to the Mint Act of September 26, 1890, the federal government began to take action in the mid-1910s with the desire to replace Charles E. Barber's quarter design. Following an open competition, the Treasury Department approved Hermon Atkins MacNeil's design on December 28, 1915. The usual refinement period, exacerbated by Barber's notorious lack of cooperation, chewed up the majority of the following year. Although the Philadelphia and Denver Mints had coined more than 8 million 1916-dated Barber quarters, the parent facility was apparently impressed enough with MacNeil's Standing Liberty motif to begin production as rapidly as possible. Accordingly, Mint employees coined a mere 52,000 1916 Standing Liberty quarters between December 16 and 31. Another 12,201,200 pieces followed from all three Mints in the first half of 1917. By the middle of the year, however, political forces had arrayed against MacNeil's groundbreaking design. Numismatic scholars have shed much ink on the demise of the Type One Standing Liberty quarter. More often than not, Liberty's exposed breast has been cited as the reason behind the federal government's modification of MacNeil's original work. While this is essentially true, novice historians have tended to overstate the role of the Society for the Suppression of Vice in this process. In actuality, someone with considerably more political clout was stirring the coinage design cauldron. On April 16, 1917, Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo had written to Representative William Ashbrook of Ohio in protest to the Type One quarter design. On April 30, Ashbrook introduced McAdoo's bill before Congress. The document called upon the Mint to modify the original design by increasing the concavity of the fields and repositioning the eagle with relation to the stars. To support this aspiring law, McAdoo asserted (albeit erroneously) that the Type One coins would not stack properly. This proposal became Public Law 27 on July 9, 1917 and specified that no major changes should be made to the design other than those specifically stated. Since the approved modifications would have had a definite effect on the stacking qualities of the quarters, why did the Mint circumvent the law and further modify MacNeil's original design? While many numismatists see the jealous hand of Chief Engraver Barber at work, the real culprit was actually McAdoo himself.

Although not known to casual historians, McAdoo had married President Woodrow Wilson's daughter in 1914. Through this familial alliance, as well as his position as Secretary of the Treasury, McAdoo hoped to springboard himself into the White House after Wilson stepped down. However trivial the complaints from the Society for the Suppression of Vice may have seemed to many Americans, an aspiring politician such as McAdoo could not afford to ignore them. Accordingly, the Treasury Secretary fabricated the charge of improper stacking to mask his real intentions. While the Mint did carry out the authorized modifications, it also significantly altered the basic design by using a chain mail vest to cover Liberty's exposed breast. The Treasury Department did not even attempt to modify Public Law 27 to reflect this change, but it did enter into the Congressional Record the fact that McAdoo did not like the Type One design-the only statement of truth in the entire process. While McAdoo's presidential hopes were dashed in the elections of both 1918 and 1924, the illegal changes he ordered for the Standing Liberty quarter remained in use until the design's eclipse in 1930.

As the first year of the design and one of only four Type One deliveries, the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter is the most important issue in the entire series. With only 52,000 pieces struck, this P-mint quarter is also among the premier rarities of 20th century coinage. Since curious citizens were content to set aside examples of the numerous 1917-dated quarters, many of the 1916 pieces probably perished in the avenues of commerce. Nevertheless, enough of these coins were saved to provide average Mint State specimens for advanced collectors. On the other hand, deep pockets alone will not secure a Superb Gem representative.

Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.


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Price Guide

Last Updated: 3/11/2015

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

Base $ 3450 5375 6875 8550 10750 12250 12750 13500 14000 15750 16250 16750 18750 21500 28000 35000 50000 - - -
$ 11750 - 13000 13750 14500 - - 17250 20000 23500 33500 39000 60000 -
1916 STANDING 25C MS Full Head
Base $ - - - - - 13000 14000 15000 15750 16500 17000 18750 23500 27500 38250 55500 145000 - - -
$ - - - - - - - 21300 26000 32000 43150 70000 200000 -

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Total Graded: 863
Low Grade: PrAg
Average Grade: 55
High Grade: 67

Upcoming Auctions

Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Auction House
Sale / Lot
12/2/2001 NGC MS 63   Teletrade Auction 1512, 1512/Lot# 1148 $6,496.00
2/11/2007 PCGS VF 35   Goldberg February 11-14, 2007 Pre-Long Beach Coin and Currency Auction, 39/Lot# 1380 $8,337.50
2/16/2009 NGC F 12   David Lawrence Rare Coins Monday - Internet Auction # 336, 342/Lot# 658 $6,900.00
10/17/2012 PCGS VF 30   Stack's Bowers The November 2012 Baltimore Auction - US and World Lots - Live and Internet Only Sessions, 144/Lot# 1563 $7,755.00
4/24/2013 PCGS MS 64   Full Head Heritage Auctions 2013 April 24 - 28 CSNS US Coin Signature Auction - Chicago Session(5), 1184/Lot# 4247 $19,387.50
1/20/2014 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2014 January 20 - 21 World and Ancient Coins Non Floor Session Auction - Dallas Session(2), 3031/Lot# 28813 $381.88
9/7/2014 PCGS   GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/07/2014, 191/Lot# 16749 $7,750.00
10/30/2014 PCGS   Stack's Bowers November Baltimore 2014, 6039/Lot# 4201 $1,997.50
1/6/2016 NGC MS 64   Heritage Auctions 2016 January 6 - 11 FUN US Coins Signature Auction - Tampa Session(4), 1231/Lot# 5344 $23,500.00

NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1916 STANDING 25C MS
1916 STANDING 25C MS Full Head
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: MS 66 FH
Points: 7431
Owner: FloridaFacelifter
Grade: AU 58
Points: 3510
Owner: JMWorlock
View the Registry Image Gallery

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