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American Coins Featured Liberty

American coins featured the goddess Liberty. Liberty heads, Liberty standing, Liberty seated, etc. As with American Patriotic Songs, Americans loved Liberty. The Confederate coins also featured Liberty.

1794 Libery Head Half-Dime 1861 Half Confederate 1917 Half 1912 Gold Double Eagle
(Click on images for larger and reverse images)

The first apparent deviations from Liberty were the "Indian princess" gold dollar (1854-1889) and the "Indian head" penny (1859-1909). However, this "Indian head" was Liberty with a headdress. The misnamed "Mercury head" dime of 1916-1945 was actually Liberty with a winged hat.

We first gave up Liberty on our coins in 1908 with the true "Indian head" 5 and 2 1/2 dollar coins (1908-1929) and the beautiful Indian head/buffalo nickel (1913-1938), but we did not begin honoring dead presidents until 1909. Then came the ubiquitous Lincoln penny and Liberty was mostly gone by 1948. This period was one of explosive growth in government which continues today. We also mostly gave up the other symbols of America, the eagle, olive branch, arrows, etc., and used wheat on the Lincoln penny and Monticello on the Jefferson nickel (1938-). The Washington Quarter (1932) still used the eagle, olive branch, and arrows on its reverse until 1998.

1908 Gold Quarter Eagle Indian Head 1913 Indian Head Buffalo Nickel 1861 Silver Half Reverse
(Click on images for larger and reverse images)

Other features of American coins were thirteen stars, the eagle, and the Federal shield with thirteen stripes. Often the coin has arrows and an olive branch, usually in the claws of an eagle, symbolizing our readiness to defend ourselves but our desire for peace.

The word "Liberty" has replaced the goddess in newer coins, but I miss Liberty herself.

See US Coin Facts

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