US Coins

Fraser portrait to finally debut on quarter in 2022

The CFA and CCAC, separately, recommend the same designs for the common obverse for the Women’s Quarters series from 2022 to 2025 and the reverses for the first two 2022 releases.

Images courtesy of the United States Mint.

The Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee independently recommended the identical proposed design for the common obverse for the 2022 to 2025 American Women Quarters Program and the reverses for the first two 2022 coins.

The CFA convened April 15 to consider the proposed designs and the CCAC met April 20. The American Women Quarters Program calls for the production and release into circulation of quarter dollars with reverse designs recognizing contributions of prominent American women.

The first two honorees are the first American female astronaut in space, in 1983, Dr. Sally Ride, and noted poet and civil rights advocate Maya Angelou.

Future honorees will be announced by the U.S. Mint in alphabetical order, with designs for the final three honorees to be considered by the two coin design review panels at their respective June meetings. Mint officials have not yet disclosed in what order the 2022 American Women quarter dollars will be issued. The recommendations from both the CFA and CCAC will be forwarded to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen for her final approval.

Common obverse

For the common obverse, the CFA and CCAC both selected, from the 11 designs proposed, a design submitted to the Mint in 1931 for the 1932 Washington quarter dollar and finally chosen for use once on a United States commemorative coin in 1999.

The remaining 10 designs considered were rendered either by the Mint’s engraving staff and Artistic Infusion Program artists. The recommended design was the one originally submitted by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser in a 1931 design competition for the Washington quarter dollar introduced in 1932.

Fraser’s portrait, facing right, of George Washington was recommended for the obverse of the 1932 quarter dollar by the George Washington Bicentennial Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts, but then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon instead selected sculptor John Flanagan’s bust-left design for the quarter dollar.

Flanagan’s design was used on the Washington quarter dollar from 1932 through 1998, with a version reduced in size by 15% employed for the State, District of Columbia and U.S. Territories America the Beautiful quarter dollars. The reduction and modifications were executed by then-U.S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver William C. Cousins.

Sixty-seven years after its initial submission, Fraser’s design was resurrected in 1999 for the obverse of the 1999-W gold $5 commemorative marking the 200th anniversary of Washington’s death.

The CCAC recommended that the Mint mark whichever U.S. Mint production facilities produce the coins should appear in the field of the design below the date.

If Yellen selects the Fraser portrait (remember, the CFA and CCAC recommendations are not final), it will be used in 2022 to 2025. The 2026 legislation allows for a total redesign of the quarters (obverse and reverse). Then for 2027, the legislation requires an obverse featuring George Washington that distinguishes the program from the previous quarters program.

Sally Ride

The CFA and CCAC considered five proposed designs for the Sally Ride quarter dollar reverse.

Both panels recommended a design for the Ride quarter dollar that depicts Dr. Sally Ride next to a window on the space shuttle, inspired by her quote, “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth.”

The placement of “E PLURIBUS UNUM” is intentionally positioned over the Earth next to America, indicating that out of all women in the United States, Dr. Ride was the first into space.

A physicist by training, Ride joined NASA in 1978. On June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman in space as a crew member on space shuttle .

The purpose of the mission was to deploy two communications satellites and the first Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS-1), conduct experiments within the cargo bay, and test a second satellite.

Part of Ride’s responsibilities was to operate the robotics arm to deploy and once experiments were completed, to retrieve SPAS-1. Ride took her second mission aboard Challenger on Oct. 5, 1984.

Ride had completed eight months of training for her third flight when the space shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on Jan. 26, 1986.

Ride, who eventually left NASA in 1987,  She was named to the Rogers Commission,  the presidential commission investigating the Challenger disaster and headed its subcommittee on operations.

It wasn’t until after Ride’s July 23, 2012, death from pancreatic cancer was it disclosed she had provided key information to help identify the cause of the Challenger’s 1986 explosion.

Maya Angelou

The CFA and CCAC scrutinized seven proposed designs for the Angelou coin.

The recommended design features Maya Angelou with arms uplifted. Behind her are a bird in flight and a rising sun, images inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived.

Angelou, who died in 2014, published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years.

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