The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) reviewed design candidates for the 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters at their January 21, 2010 meeting. The United States Mint had prepared three to four potential designs or each of the five quarters to be issued next year featuring parks or sites in Pennsylvania, Montana, Washington, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
US Mint’s design candidates undergo review and comment by the CFA, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the federal official who serves as liaison to the site, the Secretary of the Interior, and the chief executive of the host jurisdiction. The United States Mint weighs the input and makes recommendations to the Treasury Secretary, who has the authority to make the final design selections.
Before providing specific recommendations and commentary on the 2011 Quarter design candidates, the CFA provided some general comments related to the series template and design images.
The CFA expressed their regret that the US Mint did not take their previous recommendation to change the overall series template. When reviewing the 2010 design candidates, they had recommended that the inner circle be made continuous. The flat portion of the inner circle conflicted with the circular shape of a coin and might conflict with some designs. In the current meeting they also questioned the symmetrical placement of the motto “E Pluribus Unum” with the state name.
More generally, the Commission reiterated their recommendation that emblematic features of each park should be depicted in favor of sweeping scenic images. Landscapes might be difficult to distinguish on the small size of a quarter and may become difficult to distinguish from one another as the series progresses. The CFA criticized the tendency for some designs to use photographic images as their basis. They stated that coin designs should emphasize the abstraction of key elements, rather than use excessive detail and realism.
The CFA’s specific recommendations for each of the five America the Beautiful Quarters to be issued in 2011 are included below.
The Commission recommended alternative #3, commenting that it is the simplest design and will therefore be the most legible at the scale of the coin. The Commission recommended adjusting the lower portion of the design to avoid the awkward relationship of the monument base to the flat portion of the border.
The Commission recommended alternative #3, commenting that the Rocky Mountain goat is emblematic of the park and provides a desirable foreground feature that gives scale to the sweeping vista of the glaciated landscape.
The Commission recommended alternative #1, again supporting the inclusion of an animal as an emblem of the larger landscape and commenting favorably on the depiction of the Roosevelt elk.
The Commission supported alternative #4, depicting the entrance arch of the park, while recommending development of a simplified design that emphasizes this iconic feature without the attempt to depict a realistic landscape setting. The Commission members also discouraged the depiction of sculptural fragments of memorials, as seen in alternatives #1 and #3, commenting that such subjects are not easily recognizable in isolation as historic design features representing the park.
The Commission did not recommend any of the alternatives, again commenting that the scale of the coin does not support detailed landscape depictions. The Commission suggested further development and resubmission of the bridge featured in alternative #2 due to its distinctive form and symbolic representation of the site, while simplifying or eliminating the landscape setting.
These candidate designs were subsequently reviewed by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) at their January 26, 2010 meeting. See previous coverage of the 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters CCAC recommendations.