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The Isabella Quarter – 1893

1893 Isabella Quarter – Celebrating Women’s Accomplishments

The World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Half Dollars were not the only coins to be issued and sold at the Columbian Exposition. The Board of Lady Managers, a powerful group of women at that time, also sought a coin to commemorate women’s accomplishments in the world.  

They were successful in lobbying Congress for approval of a Commemorative Quarter Dollar. The Board of Lady Managers was led by a very influential Chicago socialite, Mrs. Bertha Palmer. Palmer and her husband owned one of the most important hotels in Chicago, the Palmer House.

(Mrs. Bertha Palmer, head of the Bard of Lady Managers)

Mrs. Palmer wanted a woman to create the model for the coin. She engaged Caroline Peddle, a Chicago sculptor who created a number of designs for the Quarter. This was her final design.

(1892 Sketch of Caroline Peddle for the Isabella Quarter Dollar coin – Obverse [top] – Reverse [bottom].  

The Treasury Department disagreed. They wanted one of their own coin engravers to create a design that would follow the approved legislation requirements but also be easy to strike.  Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber designed a coin with a crowned bust of Queen Isabella I of Spain on the obverse facing left. She is surrounded by “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and the date “1893” forms the second line of text to the right.

The reverse depicts a full figure of a woman, kneeling, with distaff and spindle, emblematic of woman’s industry. Surrounding the woman’s figure is “BOARD OF LADY MANAGERS” above and “COLUMBIAN QUAR. DOL.” below.

(1893 Isabella Quarter Dollar – Obverse [left] – Reverse [right].)

A total of only 24,214 were struck and distributed. Given that you could buy a Columbian Expo Half Dollar for the same $1 issue price, sales of the Isabella Quarters were slower than expected.

DateTypeMintageFine ValueUnc Value
1893Isabella Quarter24,214$250$1,500

Expand your collection today and shop for an 1893 Isabella Commemorative Quarter AU (Toned).

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