US Coins

Commission of Fine Arts reviews quarter designs

By the time the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts got around to reviewing designs for the final six quarter dollars in the America the Beautiful series, its membership in attendance had shrunk from five to three.

That was not enough for formal votes, but the three panelists plunged ahead at their June 21 meeting in Washington, offering recommendations for five of the proposed six coins.

Officials said those recommendations will have to be reviewed by the commission’s full membership when it reconvenes in July. Only then can they be forwarded to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has the final say on what designs go on the nation’s coins.

By the next meeting the panel also hopes to see the revisions the U.S. Mint has promised for one of the six coins.


inside coin world 070918Inside Coin World: What causes these unusual errors? Coins struck by dual misaligned dies and coins with adjustment marks are among the subjects of our columns this week, found exclusively in the print and digital editions of Coin World.


Connecticut quarter

At its June 12 meeting the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee balked at endorsing a design for Connecticut’s Weir Farm National Historic Site quarter dollar, saying they wanted the artists to reconsider two of their designs for the 2020 coin.

The three CFA members urged the Mint to include six designs for the same coin in their review — not just the two designs that CCAC had urged be reviewed. 

Those two designs featured a concept of a picture in a picture at the farm, where a number of scenic views have been depicted by many artists.

Alabama coin

In reviewing the designs for the 2020 and 2021 coins, the only reverse on which the three CFA members completely agreed with the CCAC was the 2021 Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site quarter dollar.

Both panels endorsed a design showing a young African-American pilot “suiting up to join the fight during World War II” at their Alabama base.

Kansas choices

The CFA came close to endorsing the same design as the CCAC had for the 2020 quarter honoring the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in Kansas. But in the end, the CFA said their choice was either the regal fritillary butterfly fluttering over big bluestem and Indian grasses, which the CCAC had endorsed, or another design showing the butterfly in the tall grasses with a male greater prairie chicken.

American Samoa

For the National Park of American Samoa, the CFA members endorsed a design show a mother Samoan fruit bat with her pup, followed by a second choice, a Samoan man blowing into a conch shell and a third choice of a split design showing a land rising out of the sea with a coral seascape under the water.

The CCAC had strongly recommended a view of a threadfin butterfly fish against a design showing a Polynesian symbol of a wave.

Virgin Islands

The two review panels also split over what to recommend for the reverse of the 2020 quarter for the Salt River National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve in the Virgin Islands. 

The CCAC strongly urged a designs showing a young red mangrove tree emerging from the water, but the three CFA members liked a view of an older mangrove tree and a green sea turtle.

CFA member Liza Gilbert said she found the CCAC choice “a little too perfect” and expressed hope that the roots of the mangrove tree in their endorsed design could be improved, saying they “look like noodles.”

CFA member Alex Krieger said he, too, liked the turtle and tree because the design “combines flora and fauna.”


For the 2020 Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont, the CFA members endorsed a design showing a young girl planting a Norway spruce seedling near an older, established tree. 

The CCAC had backed a design showing hands planting a sugar maple sapling against the Green Mountains.

The CFA members voice hope that a hint of the mountains could be added to their preferred design for the coin.

The five 2020 quarter dollars and the single 2021 coin will be the last in the America the Beautiful quarter dollars program. However, a provision in the original public law empowers the Treasury secretary to order a second round of designs. If the secretary chooses not to execute that provision, then the quarter dollar design will revert to the standard portrait of George Washington on the obverse and on the reverse a depiction of Washington crossing the Delaware River on the night of Dec. 25–26, 1776, to attack Hessian troops at Trenton, New Jersey, during the Revolutionary War. 

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