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‘America The Beautiful’ Quarter-Dollar Series Well Past Midway

January 7, 2017 0 Comments

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Now that the Fort Moultrie quarter-dollar has been released, which it was on November 14, 2016, the series is well past half-way. In fact, since this is coin 35 out of a projected total of 56, it is now nearer the two-thirds mark. The last coin will be released in 2021, ending the series.

In any case, this is good moment to reflect on the whole ‘America the Beautiful’ project, and consider how far it has come. The series first began in 2010, with the release of a circulating currency quarter and a matching bullion series in pure silver. The goal is to show a prominent National Park or National Site from each of the 50 states, plus the federal district and the five major territories (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands). The series began on April 19, 2012, with Arkansas and the Hot Springs National Park. The order of release was chosen based on the formation date of the National Parks, with Hot Springs being the oldest, dating back to 1832. Each year sees the release of five more coins, and each one is greeted with anticipation by both coin and bullion collectors.

Unlike some earlier series, the images used were coordinated for artistic merit, under the Artistic Infusion Program begun in 2005. As a result, there is a coherence to the series that makes it exceptionally attractive to collectors. The obverse is a standard format for all coins. It shows a profile bust of George Washington, with ‘United States of America’ above and ‘Quarter Dollar’ below. On the left is the word ‘Liberty’ and to the right ‘In God We Trust’. On the reverse of each issue is a unique depiction of the site, using pioneer or military figures; landscape features; historic structures or war monuments; appropriate battle scenes, and images of iconic wildlife. So good is the art work that already two coins – the 2015 Kisatchie National Forest and the 2013 Mount Rushmore National Memorial – have won Coty Awards for ‘Best Circulating Coin’, based on the quality of the design work.

Some highlights of the collection include:

Most Original Image: Mount Rushmore (2013), showing the heads under construction, rather than a more ‘classic’ image of this well-known monument.

Most Dramatic Park: Denali National Park, Alaska (2012), depicting a rare Dall sheep against the backdrop of Mount McKinley.

Most Challenging Depiction: The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (2014). Drafting a design of something as shifting and complex as sand-dunes must have been a real challenge.

Hidden Treasure Site: The Block Island National Wildlife Refuge (due for release in 2018) is a 127-acre migratory bird refuge on an island 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. This obscure location plays an important role in the conservation of more than 70 species of migrating song birds.

Most Remote Site: This must surely be the American Memorial Park on the island of Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, due for release in 2019. This recreational park was created to honor the sacrifices made during the Marianas Campaign of World War II.

Overall, the ‘America the Beautiful’ series promises to be one of the most outstanding currency and bullion issues made by the US Mint, and is destined to become a key-stone set for collectors of all kinds.

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