US Coins

New quarters series could honor women in 2021

The America the Beautiful quarter dollar series is scheduled to end in 2021 with a single coin. New legislation, if enacted, would replace it with a new series honoring prominent American women.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint.

As the America the Beautiful quarter dollar series is winding down, two legislators in Congress have suggested a replacement program — one honoring the accomplishments of women.

Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, introduced H.R. 5308 on March 15. The new measure is called the ‘‘Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act.’’

According to a press release from Lee’s office, the program is intended “to honor women who have made significant contributions to America.”

If enacted, it would emulate the America the Beautiful quarter dollars program, which ends with a single coin in 2021, and which itself followed the path of the State quarter dollars program of 1999 to 2008 and District of Columbia and U.S. Territories program of 2009. 

According to the press release, “The governor or executive of each state or territory would recommend a design to the Treasury, in consultation with various stakeholders. If enacted, the quarter program would coincide with the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.”

The amendment was ratified in August 1920. Five America the Beautiful quarter dollars are scheduled to issued in the centennial year, 2020, and the final coin in 2021. 

It calls for the final America the Beautiful quarter dollar to be issued no earlier than Jan. 1, 2021, and no later than March 31, 2021.

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Upon the conclusion of the America the Beautiful series, and starting April 1, 2021, the new series would begin. According to the legislation, each coin would “... be emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent woman who was a resident of a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory; bear the name of the prominent woman and the State, District of Columbia, or territory; and bear other appropriate inscriptions.”

The coins would be issued for each state, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories. They would be released alphabetically, starting with the coin for Alabama.

Behind the concept

Lee commented on the concept through the press release: “Since our nation’s founding, women have played an instrumental role in shaping this country — even though their sacrifices and accomplishments have often gone unrecognized by history,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This important bill, introduced during Women’s History Month, is designed to correct this historic wrong. By uplifting women on our currency, Americans will have an opportunity to learn more about the unsung pioneers who built the United States. In the coming weeks and months, I hope my constituents and people across the country will provide input on the remarkable women they would like to see celebrated.” 

Current plans

The 12-year America the Beautiful quarter dollar program is currently slated to conclude in 2021 with the release of the final coin in the 56-coin program. It will honor Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama.

Enactment of the proposed legislation would overturn the law authorized the current series and its two possible replacement issues. According to Public Law 110-456, the Treasury secretary must decide by the end of the ninth year of the program — the end of calendar year 2018 — whether to continue the program with a second round of 56 circulating commemorative quarter dollars.

If that option is selected, each state, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories, would be recognized with a second coin bearing a reverse design recognizing another national park or historic site not previously honored.

The second round of coins would be issued in the same order as the first.

Should the Treasury secretary select this option, within 30 days of doing so, he must submit a report supporting his determination to the House Financial Services Committee and Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

If the new legislation is not enacted, following the conclusion of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program — whether following the first round or a second round if one is authorized — the denomination’s obverse is mandated under Public Law 110-456 to revert to sculptor John Flanagan’s portrait of George Washington as introduced in 1932 on the Washington quarter dollar and last used in 1998, before the start of the 50 State Quarters Program in 1999.

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