With a production run of only 52,000 pieces, the 1916 Standing Liberty is the second-lowest mintage quarter of the 20th century, ahead of only the rare 1913-S Barber quarter, with a mintage of 40,000.
Estimates there are just 10,000 surviving 1916 Standing Liberty quarters across all grades, and among these only 500 exist in grades of MS60 or better.
They were struck at the Philadelphia Mint during the last two weeks of 1916, the year when the last of the Barber quarters were being produced by the millions. The first 1916 Standing Liberty quarters were released shortly later in January 1917, with many folks in the public taking offense at the appearance of Miss Liberty’s exposed right breast on the obverse of the coin.
The design, by Hermon A. MacNeil, was modified partway through 1917, with the addition of a chain mail over Miss Liberty’s chest. Although it is often stated that the addition of the chain mail to Liberty in 1917 resulted from widespread public outcry regarding the exposed breast, there is no evidence that this was the case. Numismatic scholar Roger W. Burdette has not uncovered any supporting documentation to that effect.
There were also some changes made to the reverse in the arrangement of the stars surrounding the flying eagle motif. These changes are well recognized by numismatists and resulted in the creation two distinct subtypes for the Standing Liberty series. Type I, in production from 1916 to early 1917, shows Miss Liberty’s exposed breast; Type II, in production from 1917 on through the end of the series in 1930, depicts Miss Liberty adorned in the chain mail, along with three stars under the eagle on the reverse. The chain mail was added to symbolize Liberty’s preparedness to defend the nation with the coming of the United States’ involvement in World War I.