Our latest Coin Update poll asked readers which year they felt boasted the best America the Beautiful quarter designs so far, and the results are in. Soon after launching the poll, designs from 2010, 2012, and 2015 were locked in a dead heat; later, 2010 and 2015 pulled ahead of the others, with 2015 eventually taking the lead. In the end, though, readers helped 2010 edge out this year’s designs, stretching its margin of victory to 9% over its nearest competitor. There were 780 votes in all.
The results of this poll yielded some surprises, but voters’ selection of the 2010 designs was not one of them. The 2010 batch has much to recommend it: great artwork, low mintages, some of the country’s most iconic sites, and the fascination of being the first releases in a long series.
It’s hard to think of a better three-issue run than the consecutive releases of the Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Grand Canyon National Park quarters in 2010 (I think the first three issues of 2014 come close, but more on that later). The Mount Hood design is solid as well, and though few will call the Hot Springs quarter their favorite, its still-life clarity brings an important diversity to the group.
One of the great things about the second-place 2015 designs is the way they are strengthened by their association with one another. The varied reverses incorporate landscapes, birds, and careful composition into the images, and there seems to be greater care taken on the part of the artists to avoid overstuffing the fields with clutter or excessive detail. All of these images are allowed to breath with plenty of empty space, and because of this they look particularly good in a Proof finish.
The Blue Ridge Parkway design is easily one of the best of the entire series, and while some have complained that the Bombay Hook image is too close to the Everglades issue, it’s impressive how it uses the marshy waterways to give the image a sense of depth and distance.
The big surprise for me was that the 2014 designs came in 5th place, with only 6% of the vote. I’m admittedly a sucker for mountains, but I think 2014’s three-coin run of the Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Arches National Parks rival any similar grouping in the series.
What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts on America the Beautiful designs in the comments section below. For more information on the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful quarter program, please visit the U.S. Mint’s Web site.