New quarters program includes bullion versions
- Published: Mar 23, 2018, 6 AM
As the America the Beautiful quarter dollar series winds down, two legislators in Congress are suggesting a replacement program — one honoring the accomplishments of women. And like the program it might replace, the proposed series would offer circulating, collector, and 5-ounce silver bullion versions.
Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, introduced H.R. 5308 on March 15. The measure is called the ‘‘Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act.’’
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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 quarters program of 1999 to 2008 and the 2009 District of Columbia and U.S. Territories program.
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.
When would it start?
Five America the Beautiful quarter dollars are scheduled to be issued in the amendment’s centennial year, 2020, and the final coin in 2021. The new legislation 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 law would prohibit designs of a head and shoulders style, or bust, or any design that would resemble a “two-headed coin.” No living person could be depicted.
The Treasury secretary would be responsible for devising a design selection process, with the following groups to be included whenever possible: the chief executive of the applicable State, District of Columbia, or territory; artists from the States, District of Columbia, and territories; engravers of the United States Mint; and members of the general public from groups or organizations that are pursuing a mission focused on increasing the inclusion of women or improving the quality of life for women.
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.
The number of individual coins issued each year would be left to the discretion of the Treasury secretary. The ending date of the program would be based on the frequency of the coin releases, and would not occur until all 56 coins were issued.
As with the current program, the new series would permit the production of Proof and Uncirculated versions of the coins in copper-nickel clad and not less than 90 percent silver of the standard specifications, and 3-inch 5-ounce .999 fine silver coins.
Behind the concept
Rep. 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,” Lee said. “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.”
What is currently the final coin, slated for 2021, in the 56-coin, 12-year America the Beautiful quarter dollar program, will also feature Alabama, honoring the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
Enactment of the proposed legislation would overturn some portions of the law authorizing the current series, regarding 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 — Public Law 110-456 mandates that the denomination’s obverse 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.
The reverse would feature Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware River prior to the Battle of Trenton.
The new legislation calls for those same two designs to be used on the quarter dollar once the new series ends.
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