The Barber series of coins that circulated in the United States from 1892 to 1916 were among the most criticized coin designs in US history. Characterized as lacking in beauty and imagination, the US Mint set plans in motion to replace the designs for the dime, quarter, and half dollar as soon as the 25-year minimum period had passed. But while the Mercury dime and Walking Liberty half dollar became some of the most iconic coins in US numismatic history, the replacement for the Barber quarter has largely been forgotten.
The Standing Liberty quarter was very much a product of its time. While the initial design featured a bare-breasted Liberty on guard against military threats, the design was modified to give her a chain mail breastplate in order to maintain her modesty. The design, while beautiful, was the only coin design produced by American sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil. Due to problems with premature wearing away of the date, a slightly modified design was produced in 1925 to keep the date from getting too worn.
Due to the Great Depression, lack of demand for quarters meant that no Standing Liberty quarters were minted in 1930. And as the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth approached in 1932, the movement began to place his face on a piece of circulating coinage. While the initial plans had been to place Washington on the half dollar, that was changed to place him on the quarter. And thus after less than 15 years in production the Standing Liberty quarter was done away with in favor of the George Washington quarter. The quarter remained in circulation, however, until the hoarding of silver coins in the early 1960s in response to rising silver prices.
Because so many Standing Liberty quarters have had their dates worn away, they are among the cheapest forms of “junk” silver available today. Expect to pay about 10% over spot from commercial sellers, whereas premiums on other junk silver coins are often much higher. However, you also need to weigh those undated quarters carefully, as in many cases they may be 5% or more underweight due to wear from heavy use.
Like many older circulating silver coins, the Standing Liberty quarter is not eligible for investment through a silver IRA or precious metals IRA. But for anyone looking for a good source of cheap silver and a piece of history besides, the Standing Liberty quarter could be a good choice.
- Purity: 90% silver
- Weight: 6.25 g
- Silver Content: 0.18084 troy oz.
- Diameter: 24.3 mm
- Thickness: 1.75 mm