Beginning in 1834, the Mint began a search for a suitable design that could serve as an enduring symbol on American gold coins. In that year Engraver William Kneass executed a head of Liberty for quarter eagles and half eagles that became known as the Classic design. But this design, although modified several times, was not to last, as it was adapted from John Reich’s old Classic Head motif first used on large cents in 1808 and officials continued to press for a symbol of Liberty more befitting the growing Republic. By 1838, Christian Gobrecht’s Coronet design for the eagle took center stage, and a version of this—in keeping with the Mint’s penchant for uniformity—was used on the quarter eagle starting in 1840.
The design as finally adopted featured a large head of Liberty facing left, wearing a wide coronet inscribed with the word LIBERTY. Her hair is pulled back in a bun and held in place by a string of pearls. Thirteen stars are placed ar.... (Expand Text)