Where is the mint mark on a Standing Liberty quarter? The Standing Liberty Quarter is one of the most iconic coins produced by the United States Mint in the early 20th century. First minted in 1916, this beautiful coin features a left-facing image of Liberty on the obverse and an eagle in flight on the reverse.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The mint mark on a Standing Liberty quarter is located on the obverse of the coin, just above the minting date.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about locating the mint mark on a Standing Liberty quarter, including a brief history of the coin, minting details, how to identify mint marks, and where exactly it is placed on the coin.
A Brief History of the Standing Liberty Quarter
The Origin and Design of the Coin
The Standing Liberty quarter was minted from 1916 to 1930 to mark the 100th anniversary of Indiana’s statehood. The original design featured Lady Liberty standing in front of a sunrise scene, her right arm outstretched holding a shield to symbolize protection.
Her left arm holds an olive branch representing hope for peace. She stands on a granite outcropping, meant to signify durability and stability. The rays of the sunrise behind her were meant to evoke a bright future ahead for the country.
The coin was designed by American sculptor Hermon Atkins MacNeil. His initial sketches featured Lady Liberty in a more warlike pose, bearing a sword. However, the final approved design showed her in a less aggressive stance.
This reflected American hopes to avoid involvement in World War I, which was raging in Europe at that time. The detailed artistry of MacNeil’s design was groundbreaking for American coinage at the time and represented a defining moment in numismatic art.
Why the Design Changed in 1917
Despite the artistic beauty of MacNeil’s Lady Liberty design, it had one major flaw: it wore out the coin dies very quickly. In 1916, Mint Engraver Charles E. Barber raised concerns about the longevity of the coin dies to the amount of detailed relief sculpture work on the coin’s surface.
But his warnings went unheeded.
By 1917, it became clear Barber’s predictions were correct. The design wore down coin dies to an extreme degree, with loss of detail after striking only 10,000 or so coins. This resulted in many vague and indistinct coins being produced.
To address this, the design was revised in 1917 to lower the relief and reduce the amount of detail. Liberty’s exposed right breast was covered with a coat of mail and chain armor. This enabled the revised design to strike with much greater longevity and durability.
Though artistic merit was sacrificed, the coin’s circularity was greatly improved by the modifications.
Minting Process and Details
Which Mints Produced Standing Liberty Quarters
The Standing Liberty Quarter was minted from 1916 to 1930 at three different United States mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the Denver Mint. The mint mark indicating which mint a coin was struck at can be found on the reverse side below the eagle.
- Quarters minted in Philadelphia have no mint mark – these make up the majority of Standing Liberty quarters produced.
- Coins struck at the San Francisco Mint carry an “S” mint mark.
- Coins from the Denver Mint have a “D” mint mark.
The Standing Liberty Quarter saw its highest mintage numbers in the 1920s after the design modifications. Over 27 million of the quarters were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1920 alone!
Understanding Mint Marks
Mint marks are small letters stamped on coins to identify the mint where the coins were manufactured. For Standing Liberty quarters, authorized mints at the time were Philadelphia (no mint mark), San Francisco (“S”), and Denver (“D”).
The presence or absence of a mint mark can make a big difference in the value and rarity of a Standing Liberty quarter. For example, the 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter had a modest mintage of just 52,000 pieces from the Philadelphia Mint.
|No mint mark
With key dates and conditions being equal, Standing Liberty quarters struck in San Francisco or Denver tend to be worth more than their Philadelphia counterparts. Checking for a mint mark and identifying where the coin was struck is an important step in assessing its value.
Identifying Mint Marks on Quarters
Locating the Mint Mark
The mint mark on a Standing Liberty quarter can be found on the obverse (head) side of the coin, near the bottom, just above the minting date. It is a small letter indicating which US mint produced the coin. Here are a few tips for locating it:
- Carefully look in the space between the Lady Liberties foot and minting date.
- Use a magnifying glass if needed to see the tiny mint mark letter(s) closely.
- Know that mint marks weren’t initially used on quarters in 1916, the first year they were issued.
By knowing exactly where to look, you’ll be able to spot the mint mark on most Standing Liberty quarters. Being able to identify the mint is important for determining the coin’s rarity and value to collectors.
Interpreting Mint Mark Letters and Symbols
Once you’ve located the mint mark on your 1916-1930 Standing Liberty Quarter, you can use the following guide to interpret what the letter(s) means:
|No mint mark Philadelphia
|San Francisco, California
An absent mint mark indicates that the coin was struck at the Philadelphia Mint. The marks “D” and “S” designate coins minted in Denver and San Francisco specifically. Keep in mind that coins without mint marks tend to be the most common, while “D” and “S” marked examples are scarcer.
Sometimes there are very small variations in the style of the mint letter used. Also, look out for an “S” appearing over a “D” – this is called an “overmint mark” and is rare!
The Placement of the Mint Mark
The mint mark on a Standing Liberty quarter indicates which US mint facility struck the coin. Unlike many other US coin denominations, the mint mark was not placed near the date on the Standing Liberty quarters.
Beside the Lady Liberty Foot
Instead, the mint mark on Standing Liberty quarters is found beside the Lady Liberty foot and slightly above the minting date on the obverse of the coin. The different mint marks used on Standing Liberty quarters include:
- None – Philadelphia mint (no mint mark)
- D – Denver mint
- S – San Francisco mint
So a small D or S indicates that coin was struck at the Denver or San Francisco mint, respectively. If there is no mint mark, then the Standing Liberty Quarter came from the main Philadelphia mint.
Identifying the Mint
- Check above the minting date for a mint mark
- If no mint mark there, it’s a Philadelphia issue
- If a D or S appears, that indicates the Denver or San Francisco mint
Following those guidelines will allow you to reliably determine the origin of any Standing Liberty quarter based on the placement of its mint mark.
Where Is The Mint Mark On A Standing Liberty Quarter – Conclusion
As one of the most popular early 20th-century U.S. coin designs, the Standing Liberty Quarter holds enduring appeal for coin collectors and historians alike. A small detail like the placement of the mint mark provides valuable information about when and where the coin was produced.
We covered the fascinating history of this coin as well as step-by-step details on how to locate and interpret the mint mark it bears. Understanding this crucial detail will assist you in identifying Standing Liberty quarters in your collection or those you come across.