Five popular sites from five different U.S. states will be honored in 2011 on the reverse side of Washington quarters.
Listed in the order of their release, the sites will be Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Glacier National Park in Montana, Olympic National Park in Washington, Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma.
These five newly designed quarters are part of the quarter series that begins in 2010 and is called the America the Beautiful Quarter Program. They are much like the popular 50 State Quarters Program, touted by the US Mint as the "most successful coin initiative in US history" and produced between 1999 and 2008. The difference is the America the Beautiful Quarter Program features 56 US National Sites.
The quarter design process is quite involved, and the America the Beautiful Quarter Program presents unique challenges. First, the national sites have many notable elements but the diameter of the quarter is slightly less than one inch. Second, the order of the national sites had to be determined. Third, the designs had to be drawn by US Mint artists and reviewed by various parties, to include the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). For the 2010 designs, that process had to be sped up in order to get the first 2010 quarters produced. The two review entities have already submitted their recommendations regarding the 2010 candidate designs to the Secretary of the Treasure, and an announcement about the final selections is expected at any time.
The 2011 design candidates have also been drawn, and have followed a more typical timeline. Three to four designs have been created for each location. It usually takes the Mint about 18 months from the time coin legislation is passed to the time new coins are produced. The CFA and CCAC have reviewed the designs and submitted their recommendations.
The following are high resolution images of the candidate designs by order of their upcoming release in 2011 (click on any image to enlarge it):
Pennsylvania: 2011 Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter Design
Montana: 2011 Glacier National Park Quarter Designs
Washington: 2011 Olympic National Park Quarter Designs
Mississippi: 2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Designs
Oklahoma: 2011 Chickasaw National Recreation Area Quarter Designs
In all cases, the US Mint will be issuing the new quarters by the order in which the federal government took control of a site. A new quarter will be released five times a year until the final coin is released in the year 2021. The 2011 quarters will be the 6th through 10th quarters in the series and will be the first year that two American Civil War military parks are honored.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, will still be featured on the obverse of the new quarters. His portrait, designed by John Flanagan, has been on the quarter dollar since 1932. That same image was slightly modified by William Cousins for the release of the State Quarters, and it will be used again on the new series.
For additional information on the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, check out the sister site to CoinNews that is dedicated to the new series at America the Beautiful Quarters.