A Guidebook of Mercury Dimes, Standing Liberty Quarters, and Walking Liberty Half Dollars
Upon first glance, I was curious as to the wisdom in consolidating these three classic series into one book, but I will say that after reading “A Guidebook of Mercury Dimes, Standing Liberty Quarters, and Walking Liberty Half Dollars” by Q. David Bowers, I am in agreement that these coins not only fit well together, but are intertwined in their history and their romance.
All three coins were released in 1916 and each replaced a coin of the long-running Barber design. Curiously, these three designs are considered to be the most beautiful silver coins in United States Mint history, and are the cornerstones of what I, and others have named the “Renaissance of American Coinage”.
It is unclear if any of these three series would lend themselves to a complete work. The Standing Liberty Quarter, though prized by many collectors, is a very short series, lasting less than 20 years. Even though the coin saw a major design revision and a later hub change to recess the date, it would likely not offer the volume of material necessary to justify its own book.
The other two coins share a common lineage, both being designed by Adolph Weinman, and combined with their near identical date runs, from 1916-1945 and 47 respectively, share a common history, both having mintage numbers affected by World War I, The Great Depression, and World War II. Both are collected in short sets, and have a very short run of proof mintage from 1936-1942.
Bowers gives these three series his typical treatment, telling us a bit about the year in history, and the history that affected that year’s coinage. He also lists an optimal collecting grade for those wanting to pursue assembling a set, and lists values and certified populations within various grades.
History and pictures of pattern designs for the coins are also presented. The broad appeal of these coins make the pattern designs a particularly popular subject among their fans.
What I thought might be giving me short shrift by combining these three series into one book actually does the opposite by helping me to realize that these coins didn’t exist alone in a vacuum, but together at the same time in the same pockets. Their stories are almost inseparable, and it is this historical context that I find most helpful in this book.
The designs of these coins are so well-loved and so romanticized by their fans, that we have re-purposed them in precious metal for the silver 1oz bullion coin and a 2016 3-coin gold fractional set that is sure to be popular. Many have cited these exact works as an inspiration for re-vamping our staid series of dead presidents currently on our coins.
This book bring you 3 of the most beloved series of all-time. Series that are almost without exception described in loving terms, as a lost love of a bygone era. Available for $29.95 list price, I would consider it a valuable work for those who romanticize the 20th century and the last coinage that brought true beauty to the pocket change of Americans everywhere.
The Bowers series marches on with this book making us sometimes wonder aloud if there’s any subject in American coinage that he can’t teach us all something about.