At a meeting held on October 20, 2011, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) reviewed design candidates provided by the United States Mint for the 2013 America the Beautiful Quarters. These coins feature White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio, Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program began in 2010 and is scheduled to run through 2021, featuring a national park or other federally designated site in each of the 50 states, 5 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. An image representative of each site is presented on the reverse of each coin, while the obverse contains the John Flanagan portrait of George Washington.
The design selection process for each coin involves an initial identification of source materials by a Federal official serving as a liaison for each site, from which three to five design candidates are prepared by the United States Mint. After another consultation with the liaison, final design candidates are submitted to the Secretary of the Interior, the chief executive of the host jurisdiction, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for review and comment. Following these reviews, the Director of the United States Mint makes a final recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury, who has the final authority to select designs.
This article will cover the recommendations of the CFA. The final design selections likely will not be known for a year or more.
For the White Mountain National Forest Quarter, the CFA made a recommendation for design candidate #1 “due to the simplicity of the composition.”
No recommendation was offered for the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial Quarter. The Commission described compositional problems with each of the design candidates: “the complex layering of design elements in alternative #1 would be incomprehensible at the scale of the coin; the row of flags in alternative #2 has the effect of flattening the perspective view; and the large area of negative space in alternative #3 is unbalanced and excessive.”
For the Great Basin National Park Quarter, the CFA recommended design candidate #1 citing “the legibility of the composition with a single major design element.” At the present and previous meetings, the CFA has stated their concerns regarding excessive design complexity on the small size of the coin. In the past, they have expressed a preference for designs that highlight a unique feature for each site, rather than landscapes which might be difficult to differentiate.
No recommendation was offered for the Fort McHenry National Monument Quarter. They criticized the “crowded compositions and excessive emphasis on the human figures rather than the fort itself” and instead made a recommendation that an elevated or plan view of Fort McHenry should be considered.
Finally, the Commission recommended design candidate #3 for the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Quarter, calling it the “strongest design.”