|Queen Isabella Quarter Dollar United States commemorative coin|
|United States coins Columbian Exposition quarter|
Obverse: Crowned and draped bust of Queen Isabella of Spain left. Date (1893) to right.
Legend: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Reverse: Kneeling female with distaff and spindle, symbolizing women's industry.
Legend: BOARD OF LADY MANAGERS . COLUMBIAN QUAR. DOL. .
Reference: KM-115. R!
Mint Place: Philadelphia; Mintage: 24,214 pcs.
Diameter: 24 mm; Weight: 6.19 gram of Silver (.900)
The Isabella quarter or Columbian Exposition quarter was a United States commemorative coin struck in 1893. Congress authorized the piece at the request of the Board of Lady Managers of the World's Columbian Exposition. The quarter depicts Queen Isabella of Spain, who sponsored Columbus's voyages to the New World. It was designed by Bureau of the Mint Chief Engraver Charles E. Barber, and is the only U.S. commemorative of that denomination that was not intended for circulation.
The Board of Lady Managers, headed by Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer, wanted a woman to design the coin and engaged Caroline Peddle, a sculptor. Peddle left the project after disagreements with Mint officials, who then decided to have Barber do the work. The reverse design, showing a kneeling woman winding flax, with a distaff in her left hand and a spindle in her right, symbolizes women's industry and was based on a sketch by Assistant Engraver George T. Morgan.
The quarter's design was deprecated in the numismatic press. The coins did not sell well at the Exposition; its price of $1 was the same as for the Columbian half dollar and the quarter was seen as the worse deal. Nearly half of the authorized issue was returned to the Mint to be melted; thousands more were purchased at face value by the Lady Managers and entered the coin market in the early 20th century. Today, they are popular with collectors and valued in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.