In 1917, famed army scout and Wild West icon, Buffalo Bill Cody, passed away in Denver. Over his seventy years, Cody made a name for himself through military service during the Plains Wars and through his bison hunting exploits, both of which he featured in his Wild West Shows. This 1917 quarter, minted in Denver, may have been used to help pay for the Wild West legend’s funeral.
According to the late Walter Breen (1988), outcry from certain elements of society over Liberty's exposed right breast, as well as Treasury Secretary William G. McAdoo's fear of a scandal arising from that outcry, were the primary reasons for the change in the Standing Liberty Quarter design during the first half of 1917. Well, Walter was known to spin a few yarns, and this appears to have been one of them.
Recent research undertaken by Roger W. Burdette (and published in the author's 2005 book "Renaissance of American Coinage: 1916-1921") proves that the real reason behind the introduction of the Type II Standing Liberty Quarter was the United States' impending entrance into World War One. Burdette also states that the decision to cover Liberty's exposed right breast with chain mail originated with the coin's designer Hermon A. MacNeil. The author's conclusion is based on the fact that most of MacNeil's female figures had become much more militaristic in dress by late 1916, probably as a result of the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the United States and Imperial Germany. Whereas the Mercury Dime and Walking Liberty Half Dollar (both also introduced in 1916) emphasized strength and preparedness on the part of the nation, the Type I Standing Liberty depicted Liberty in soft drapery, with a partially exposed chest and seemingly unprepared or hesitant about the future. Since Treasury Secretary McAdoo already agreed to change the Quarter's design because the Type I motif employed in 1917 did not meet with MacNeil's approval, the artist took the opportunity to make Liberty better prepared for war. Burdette states that MacNeil intended the mailed bust to say, "We are prepared to fight." The author has found additional confirmation for this translation by looking at MacNeil's proposed design for the 1921 Peace Dollar, in which Liberty is removing the mailed mantle of war from her shoulder since World War One had ended in 1918.
In addition to the use of chain mail to cover Liberty's exposed breast, MacNeil's Type II design also features a redesigned head and shield on the obverse, a slightly smaller eagle situated higher in the reverse field and a different star arrangement on the same side. The Type II design was further modified in 1925 because the date was exposed and apt to wear away after relatively minimal circulation. To correct this shortcoming, the Mint placed the date in recess below Liberty's right (facing) foot. This Recessed Date variety continued in use through the end of the Standing Liberty Quarter series in 1930.