Next year's America the Beautiful Quarter design candidates have already been created and reviewed, although the final selections for this year's reverse designs are yet to be announced.
The 2011 quarters will release into circulation like the United States Mint favors, versus the accelerated time-frame the public will witness for 2010 quarters
The legislation approving the new park and site quarters was only signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 23, 2008. (Read about the recent coin forum where US Mint Director Moy discusses quarters.)
As a result, before this year's designs came to fruition, the US Mint had to first go through the process of actually creating the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, line up the 56 national park and other national sites to be honored, coordinate with the overseeing authority for each site, and get production and other Mint procedures ramped up -- all in span of a few months.
While catching up on the weekend's reading I came across an article Debate rages in coin world: Theodore Roosevelt or George Washington on new quarter? The article is about how the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee debated whether to recommend that Teddy Roosevelt be placed on the obverse of the new America the Beautiful Quarters.
Introduced in 1932, the Washington Quarter was intended to be issued as a one-time circulating commemorative to honor the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. The quarter was born of controversy when Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon chose John Flanagan's depictions over what had been determined to be a more artistic version by Laura Gardin Fraser. Although Mellon was a collector of great fine art that was later donated to the National Gallery of Art, many knew he was a sexist and refused to consider that a woman's work was better than a man's.
As the Great Depression deepened, no quarters were struck in 1933. Toward the end of the year, US Mint director Nellie Tayloe Ross was asked by the Federal Reserve to produce more quarters for circulation. Rather than use a new design, Ross ask the Treasury Secretary William Woodin for permission to continue to use Fraser's design. Since Ross and Woodin did not want to undergo a new design competition, the Fraser designed continued until it was "updated" in 1999 for the 50 State Quarters Program.
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.