The Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) met on January 26th, 2010, to discuss and recommend reverse designs for the five 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters. I was fortunate enough to be on hand to witness the process. The committee members were, at times, very impassioned about the subjects of the images, yet kept to parliamentary procedures to maintain the proper and organized flow of events.
2011 Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter – Pennsylvania
The most passion, and the lion’s share of the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, was spent discussing the images to commemorate the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania. During the discussion, it became clear that there was no single favorite of the group, not due to the quality of the artwork, but because of the intense importance this particular battle represented as the turning point of the Civil War. Also at issue was the level of detail that would be preserved on the one-inch coin from the seven-and-a-half-inch artist’s renditions before them.
Gettysburg, many argued, was too important an event to leave to any of the four designs provided, and some wanted to see something more symbolic. In fact, a motion to that effect was placed before the committee, and voted on in the affirmative. In the end, the first design, representing Picket’s Charge, was given 12 points out of a possible maximum of 33. This, along with the motion, should provide the Mint with the understanding that this design was not a favorite of the committee.
2011 Glacier National Park Quarter – Montana
The second quarter designs, for Glacier National Park in Montana, were met with a different type of emotion, best described by Gary Marks as “breathtaking spectacular grandeur.” All the committee members voiced the support for the third design, depicting the north-east slope of Mount Reynolds in the background and a mountain goat standing on a rocky outcropping in the fore, and backed up that support by giving it 33 points, the first and second designs receiving four and one points respectively.
2011 Olympic National Park Quarter – Washington
The discussion regarding the third quarter, designed for Olympic National Park in Washington state, was less evocative, but the design was viewed with no less respect. The first design’s depiction of a Roosevelt elk stepping into the Hoh river with Mount Olympus in the distance was described as artistically “pleasing”, although the sea stacks of design 2 were also given their due, as it was noted there were few other ocean-based sites on the list. The votes fell in a similar manner to the conversation, with design 1 being given 33 points, with 10 points for design 2, and six points each for designs 3 and 4.
2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter – Mississippi
The fourth quarter designs, commemorating the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi, provided, in Donald Scarinci’s words, their “only chance to depict the Navy” on a quarter. Many of the images of the various military sites listed for the quarter series involve ground-based events. Design 3 was strongly rebuked by John Alexander as honoring an act of treason. Dr. Doreen Bolger indicated that she supported design 2, as it was “so specific and so surprising” an image. In the final tally, design 2, with its the image of the USS Cairo, was given 27 points. Design 1 received a distant 12 points, and designs 3 and 4 had two and one points respectively.
The fifth and final quarter designs, representing the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma, received a more mixed review. Design 1 depicting Buffalo Springs with its concentric circles, drew praise from some, including CCAC Chairman Dr. Mitchell Sanders, who stated it “would make an interesting coin design.” However, the addition of a tourist in the image, while providing a sense of scale, would be rendered virtually unidentifiable on a quarter, as would the waterfowl on the other two designs. In the final vote, the first design received 19 points to the second’s 11. The third design, with “Little Niagara” and a great blue heron, was given six points.
My personal opinion is in sync with the committee’s voting results. The designs for the Gettysburg quarter did not bring the appropriate level of emotion that the events that took place deserved, but, as it was expressed in the meeting, performing that task is nearly impossible. In contrast, it was obvious which of the designs for the middle three quarters should be recommended: the images were clear, they presented a complete picture, and they were unambiguous. The final quarter was less obvious, but given the available options, the committee made the best choice in my opinion.
Les Peters publishes a coin blog titled Tales of a Lifelong Coin Collector that describes his experiences related to collecting coins.