The 1916 Standing Liberty quarter is the first issue in the series. These coins were not struck until the last two weeks of 1916, and they were released in January, 1917. The mintage is consequently very low, a mere 52,000 coins, making this issue the lowest mintage by far in the Standing Liberty quarter series and indeed one of the lowest mintage U.S. coins of the 20th century. The 1916 Standing Liberty quarter is rare in all grades and has always been a very high demand coin. Today, even extremely low grades sell in excess of $1,000.
The "Type One" Standing Liberty quarter was only minted for two years, 1916 and 1917. Nearly all 1917 Type One quarters were struck with full head detail. However, 1916 Standing Liberty quarters often have softly struck heads. All Gem quality MS65 or better 1916 Standing Liberty quarters are very rare, and those with fully struck heads are rarer still.
The 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter Dollar has one of the lowest mintages of any coin struck for circulation in the Twentieth Century. Technically, this type should not have appeared until 1917, because design changes were impermissible under the law until twenty-five years had elapsed. 1916 was the 25th year of the Barber Quarter, which was given a full mintage of 1,788,000 coins. Despite the legal limitations, the Mint began producing coins with Hermon MacNeil's new design in December of 1916. Production was limited to 52,000 coins, mostly because of time. No notice was given to the public that the Quarter Dollar had been re-designed, so virtually all examples entered circulation, thus accounting for the scarcity of high grade examples today.
In 1917, Liberty's bare breast was covered with a shirt of chain mail.
Mint State examples are scarce but not rare. Most Uncirculated examples appear in the MS-64 grade, followed by MS-63. Full Head examples are only slightly scarcer than non-Full Heads; in Gem condition, you're actually more likely to encounter a Full Head example.
Proofs are extremely rare and have a satiny, slightly matte finish. None have been graded by PCGS.