US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for Oct. 21, 2019: What next for quarters?

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee has recommended this design for the 2021 Washington quarter dollar, to be introduced after the end of the America the Beautiful program. However, other replacement proposals are in play.

Original images courtesy of U.S. Mint,

One of the great unanswered questions of the day is what comes after the end of the America the Beautiful quarter dollars program in early 2021 when the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama coin is released. It will the 56th and final coin in the series.

As we report this week in news coverage, the United States Mint has prepared designs for a 2021 Washington quarter dollar to meet one of two provisions for successor quarter programs inserted into the America the Beautiful quarter dollar legislation.

One provision permitted a second round of America the Beautiful coins if the United States Mint chose; Treasury and Mint officials wisely decided not to take that route. It is unlikely a second series would have met with a lot of support, certainly not from the numismatic community, considering comments from collectors online and in letters sent to Coin World.

The other provision, the one the Mint has prepared for, calls for reverting to a standard design to go unchanged from year to year. The law mandated the design should celebrate the Christmas 1776 crossing of the Delaware River by Gen. George Washington and Revolutionary Army troops to fight the British at Trenton, New Jersey. The designs submitted for review manage to reflect that theme without duplicating the design used on the 1999 quarter dollar for New Jersey in the State quarters program.

However, several possible replacement programs are under consideration that could either derail the 2021 design or shorten its life. Congress is pondering a 56-coin program that would honor prominent women from each state, territory and the District of Columbia. The Mint has proposed a 10-year program that would honor American animals and sports, along with a 2026 design celebrating the 250th anniversary of the founding of the nation. Both of these proposals require congressional approval to become law.

However, collectors seem to be growing tired of frequent design changes. I suspect that a plan that make the Washington Crossing the Delaware design a “permanent” one, along with a single 2026 anniversary coin, would gain more support from collectors than the more exuberant programs currently under review, no matter how worthy they might be. This new attitude would be a huge change from the days when collectors begged for new coin designs and eagerly sought each new State quarter dollar in circulation. We have learned that it is possible to have too much of a good thing. 

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