Long Beard's Blog

16 Feb 2021

Research and Coincidence

Coins-United States | Long Beard

Often times there are strange occurrences which seem to reveal themselves in the pursuit of research. Mostly these lead to other topics, however this one just so happened to make an appearance on a television show. That show was the STARZ network series American Gods which airs on Sunday nights at 10 P.M EST. Now mind you, the subject research began a little more than a week ago and the episode in question was a new one so knowing before hand to get an idea for a topic is out of the question. After all, instances such as these are where the author finds inspiration to write. Anyhow, the opening of the show pertained to the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition held in Chicago where a half-dollar struck by the mint in commemoration was tossed into a tin cup outside of an exhibit. Looked to be a high grade example, along with a few other coins of the day. The episode will need to be watched again, since there may have been an Isabella Quarter in there. The topic of this week's blog. Enjoy!

Authorization for a commemmorative quarter dollar saw 40,000 pieces struck. Of those, 24,191 were sold at the World's Fair or given as gifts while the balance was reclaimed by the mint and melted. The first one-hundred to be struck were proof versions, as were the 400th and 1,892nd which signified the arrival of Columbus to the new world. Oddly, these were dated and released in 1893, As were the half-dollars also struck. Contrary to common belief, this is the first and only quarter dollar struck as legal tender. Those from 1999 to the current have yet to be classified as such according to the legislation at authorization, termed instead as "programs". None the less, those familiar with modern coinage are most likely aware of the Woman Suffrage commemmoratives of 2020. The Isabella quarter just so happens to be the first to recognize this. Technically, the obverse design is not that of the Spanish Queen who's namesake is attached based on known portraits of her. The reverse, however, depicts a woman with yarn and a bobbin symbolic of women of the day.

The World's fair, of which there were many of the years, drew millions of spectators world-wide. That in Chicago was no different, beginning in 1892 and closing in 1893. Originally, only a commemmorative half-dollar had been authorized a a commemoration of the event. With Woman Suffrage at the forefront of the public consciousness and growing within the political arena, two leading activists gave birth to the coin few today symbolized the very struggle. The World's Fairs had always had a Board of Gentlemen Managers appointed by the event promoters. Susan B. Anthony, yes the woman on the dollar coin from 1979 to 1981 and again in 1999, began lobbying Congress to have a group of woman representing them at the event. With pressure onConnecticutSenator Orville Pratt, to name a few Congressman she petitioned, a letter was sent to the promoters establishing a Board of Lady Managers. Mrs. Palmer Potter, a close friend and support of Anthony, was appointed president of the board. As the wife of a wealthy hotel tycoon, and extravagant socialite in Chicago, she also wielded great influence in the struggle of women. With the board established and the release of the half-dollar on November 19, Mrs. Potter set to work on a coin in recognition of women beginning correspondence with the United States Mint and Congress. This was most likely an idea of Susan B. Anthony. Finally, on March 3, 1893 legislation was passed for such a coin, the quarter denomination. Almost immediately, she wrote to Mint Director Edward Leech with suggestions for a design. On March 17 he responded asking her to send an effigy rather than hire a sculptor or direct his staff to create such work. Seeing this as an insult, which it almost certainly was, and the fact that no women engravers were employed at the mint, she by-passed him by hiring New York City sculptor Caroline Peddle. With the designs created outside of the mint, and unauthorized to do so, when Director Leech received them he instead tasked Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber to design an allegorical Queen Isabella and a modified reverse of Peddle's design. Needless to say neither Potter nor Anthony were satisfied. Despite the fact, on June 13, 1893 the first Isabella Quarter Dollars were struck.

While these coins boast a relatively small number, mint state examples are relatively easy to find as they saw little circulation in commerce. Despite this, expect to pay healthy for one as the AU details graded example cost $480. The reason being popularity among collectors.



Level 5

Nice commemorative, very interesting blog, thanks for sharing!


Level 5

Neat blog about a great topic. Learned a lot. Thanks.


Level 5

I have one of these quarters, but I didn't know, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The Rest of the Story." Now, thanks to you, Long Beard, I know the rest of the story.


Level 5

I like these but have yet to add one to my collection. Very attractive design.


Level 6

Really beautiful coin! Thanks for all your research!


Level 6

Very cool coin. Always liked it but never went after one. I am a HUGE American Gods fan... Thanks. P.S. The show is not for everyone.

Mr. B Coins

Level 4

Long Beard, Great Column. I think I know something about Chicago and about coins, never knew about the quarter. I believe the Columbian Exposition was the start of the elevated trains in Chicago. The Exposition was about 7 miles South of downtown Chicago. They built an elevated platform or track from downtown to the Exposition. Horses and carriages would travel the distance. That platform and track was later converted to electric trains. These were expanded over the years to form the loop in downtown Chicago. Interesting Blog. Mr. B

It's Mokie

Level 6

Great Blog LB, I have always wanted an Isabella Quarter, it's time I started saving. (:


Level 5

Nice blog! I LOVE the Chicago World Fair coinage!! The 1892/3 half dollar has stolen my heart, and I love the Isabella by association. Thanks for yet another great blog!


Level 5

I have 2 of the half dollar coins in my collection, but I didn't know about the quarter! As usual a GREAT post, and a very nice looking coin! Thanks for sharing LongBeard!


Level 7

Very good blog and coin. These expositions dating back to the 19 century also produced beautiful medals. Some very costly. I did a blog on some one had a mono rail. I was shocked but out the picture up. They were famous and had them 'll over the states during those years. Thanks for such a good blog and bringing back the memories.


Level 5

Beautiful coin! Nice blog!

I. R. Bama

Level 5

I have one, it is an interesting coin. Curious fact: They sold the quarter for a dollar and the half dollar for a dollar. Its a wonder any of those quarters sold at all! Wonder who came up with that genius idea?


Level 5

Thank you Long Beard, I knew absolutely nothing about this coin prior to this blog. New knowledge, history and coins, I likes it!


Level 5

Nice Blog ! One of my favorite coins. 24,191 as a mintage. You would think they would be difficult to find? I see a lot on EBAY that are cleaned or have issues also. This coin is in my collection. Thanks for posting, looking at this quarter never gets old for me.

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