America the Beautiful Quarters kick off in 2010. During the next 11 years and at a rate of 5 per year, the reverse or tails side of each quarter will feature a design emblematic of a national park or site in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
[Read about the US Mint’s announcement of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.]
Nearly twenty art renderings were completed some months back as part of the process to select a final quarter-dollar design per location for next year.
Referred to as "candidate designs," these have also been submitted to the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for review.
All of the 2010 candidates are below, with the favorites of both groups highlighted along with their comments.
Arkansas: 2010 Hot Springs National Park Quarter Designs
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee – "For the coin portraying Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, the Committee strongly recommends design 4, which shows a focused view of the public fountain in front of the site’s headquarters building. Members appreciated the design’s clear imagery, emphasis on water, and incorporation of natural landscape."
Commission of Fine Arts – "The Commission recommended alternative #2, depicting the doorway of the park’s main building from the 1930s. The Commission members commented favorably on the simplicity of this design but questioned the quality of the drawings presented, and recommended that the small National Park Service sign beside the doorway be eliminated from the design due to its illegibility at the scale of a coin."
Wyoming: 2010 Yellowstone National Park Quarter Designs
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee – "For the coin portraying Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the Committee strongly prefers design 1, showing Old Faithful geyser with bison in the foreground and background. Members felt that design 1 would work well on a small coin, and that the depiction of animal life enhanced the design."
Commission of Fine Arts – "The Commission rejected all of the designs presented for their poor quality. The Commission members supported the idea of depicting Old Faithful, but suggested consideration of additional source material, such as the paintings of Thomas Moran."
California: Yosemite National Park Quarter Designs
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee – "For the coin portraying Yosemite National Park in California, the Committee prefers design 3, featuring a view of El Capitan. Members praised the simplicity and ruggedness of the design, and its effective composition."
Commission of Fine Arts – "The Commission recommended alternative #4 depicting the Half Dome rock formation, with the comment that the artwork appears unfinished and should be further developed. The Commission suggested that other historic sources, such as the photographs of Ansel Adams, be considered in refining this image."
Arizona: 2010 Grand Canyon National Park Quarter Designs
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee – "For the coin portraying Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, the Committee narrowly prefers design 1, featuring a canyon-level view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta, over design 4, which features an aerial view of the canyon. Both were considered to be powerful images, with design 1 preferred for its more immediate, human-scaled view of the canyon."
Commission of Fine Arts – "The Commission acknowledged the difficulty of distinguishing the subject from its previous depiction on the Arizona state quarter, a concern that may recur over the course of this new series. The Commission recommended alternative #1, due the depth of the perspective view, but suggested several modifications. Noting that the foreground scree is given too much dominance in the composition, the Commission members recommended shifting the strong vertical alignment at the center of the coin to the right to emphasize the deep perspective toward the left side of the composition."
Oregon: 2010 Mount Hood National Forest Quarter Designs
Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee – "For the coin portraying Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon, the Committee overwhelmingly prefers design 3, featuring a view of Mount Hood with Lost Lake in the foreground. Design 3 was lauded for the artistry of its imagery, and for the absence of design elements that would detract from the view of the mountain."
Commission of Fine Arts – "The Commission recommended alternative #3 due to its superior composition and simplicity of elements."
In giving its recommendations, the Commission of Fine Arts also stated that many of these national sites will be challenging to portray on a quarter given the size of them. They also recommended the use of "familiar iconic images when feasible" so that the public could easily identify them.
Along with the quarter dollars, Congress has also authorized massive silver bullion coins to accompany the series with the exact same design elements, but struck out of five ounces of .999 fine silver. What makes the bullion coins unique will be their size which is mandated to be three inches in diameter — twice the size of early US silver dollars, like the Morgans, and nearly double that of today’s American Eagle Silver, which is 1.598 inches in diameter and includes one ounce of silver.
Here is a list and release dates compliments of America the Beautiful Quarters Release Schedule. The National Site Registry list is also available from the US Mint at http://www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/NSQuartersProgram/?action=siteRegister.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program comes on the heels of the one-year 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program.
Finally, also check out the CoinNews sister site dedicated to the new series at America the Beautiful Quarters.