Standing Liberty quarter dollar celebrates centennial

Mint officials and artist Hermon MacNeil clashed over design changes
By , Coin World
Published : 04/15/16
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In preparation to begin full-scale production of the coin in 1917, the engraving staff made additional and substantial modifications to the obverse for the first 1917 quarters. Again, none of these changes were communicated to the artist.

Production of the 1917 tweaked version of MacNeil’s first obverse was already underway, and yet the artist had seen none of the coins of either date already produced. In fact, according to numismatist Roger Burdette, MacNeil assumed that the coins bore his second obverse and original reverse. He was, thus, surprised and angered that the coins he finally received from the Mint did not match his expectations or vision.

He asked the Mint, therefore, to allow him to make substantial modifications to both obverse and reverse, even enlisting the chairman of the Commission of Fine Arts to support his demands to the Mint. Mint officials not only agreed to allow MacNeil to make modifications, they also held back release of 1917 quarters for a week. In making these changes, MacNeil not only created a second subtype for the coin, he also helped create a myth that is believed by some today — that he gave Liberty some additional apparel to mollify a public who felt the original Liberty was too immodest. In reality, there was no outraged public and the claims that public pressure forced the Mint to cloth Liberty were concocted by researchers years later.

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