Lady Liberty’s face has appeared on American coins for centuries. Many people don’t know Lady Liberty’s representation in American folklore predates the statue itself, which was dedicated by the French in 1886. The inspiration for this symbol stems from the ancient Roman goddess of freedom, Libertas. Although her image has evolved over the years, her message certainly has not. Here’s a rundown of the many faces used to represent Lady Liberty on American coins.
Flowing Hair Cent (1793)
The very first large cent coin minted by the U.S. depicted Lady Liberty with wind-swept hair flowing behind her. Although her flowing hair was meant to symbolize freedom, critics of the day thought she looked frightened and unkempt in this depiction.
Draped Bust Dollar (1795-1807)
Here, Lady Liberty’s hair is a little more tidy and is shown wearing a drape across her shoulders. It’s speculated that the Draped Bust design was a response to the negative reception of the Flowing Hair design.
Gobrecht Dollar (1836-1839) & Seated Liberty Dollar (1840-1873)
The Gobrecht Dollar followed the Draped Bust Dollar, and it offered a very new depiction of Lady Liberty. On the Gobrecht Dollar, she’s seated on a rock with an American emblem at her side and a trident in her hand. She’s wearing a long and flowing robe. The same image is on the obverse side of the Seated Liberty Dollar, which was produced following the Gobrecht Dollar.
Trade Dollar (1873-1878)
The Trade Dollar was produced for a relatively short period of time and depicts another seated image of Lady Liberty. On this left-facing coin, Lady Liberty is extending her arm with an olive branch in hand looking out over the sea. These coins were widely traded the world over, with many bearing Chinese chop marks, which were used to verify the authenticity of the coins.
Morgan Dollar (1878-1904, 1921)
Another major change in Lady Liberty’s Face on American coinage came with the Morgan Dollar in 1878. This depiction is similar to the Flowing Hair coins; however, the biggest change is the Ancient Greek-influenced style and the presence of a crown atop her head.
Peace Dollar (1921-1928, 1934-1935)
Modeled by Anthony de Francisci, this depiction was met with a considerable amount of controversy surrounding a broken sword in the original design, yet the tied hair and rays emanating from Lady Liberty’s head offer a timeless look.
American Liberty 225th Anniversary Gold Coin (2017)
The most recent, and one of the most important, depiction of Lady Liberty comes in the form of this Commemorative Coin. For the first time ever, Lady Liberty is depicted as a black woman, symbolizing the ideals of freedom and equality that are central to American culture. She wears a crown of stars and a robe that drapes over her shoulders.
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Image courtesy of S.s.jin of Wikimedia Commons.