The following Q&A is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers, 5th edition:
Q: I have a 1917 quarter that does not have any stars below the eagle, and all of the other Liberty Standing quarters in my collection have three stars below the eagle. Is this a pattern coin?
A: No, more than 12 million coins of the type you describe were minted in 1916 and 1917, of which 8.74 million were produced at the Philadelphia Mint in 1917, along with about 1.51 million in Denver and 1.95 million in San Francisco. The 1916 issue, all of which were minted in Philadelphia with only 52,000 struck, is a great rarity. The design of the initial Standing Liberty quarters of 1916 to 1917 portrayed Liberty with a partially unclad bust (a treatment that offended puritanical tastes), also featuring 13 stars placed along the rim to either side of the eagle.
In changing treatment of the obverse design in 1917 by covering Liberty’s torso with a chain-mail corselet (designer Hermon A. MacNeil’s original preference), it was also determined to modify the reverse as well. While MacNeil’s flying eagle rendering was retained, it was repositioned upward; the lettering along the upper and lower rims and above the eagle was restyled; and the 13 stars, originally split unevenly along the rim to the left (7) and right (6) of the eagle, were evenly displayed 5-and-5 to the sides, with three placed in the field below the eagle. These are known as varieties 1 and 2 of the Standing Liberty quarter; a third minor variety was created in 1925 when the pedestal date area on which Liberty stands was recessed to provide a more durable display of the date.