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America the Beautiful Quarters – Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

April 9, 2018 0 Comments

One of the best things about the American the Beautiful Quarters series is their nod to democracy – anyone who can search their change can build a set of circulation coins at almost no cost. Serious collectors can buy proof sets in silver from the US Mint, but for children just starting to show an interest, or for casual collectors, they are the perfect choice. Each coin has a story to tell, and it is also a tribute to the preservation of the most beautiful places in America – an ever-greater need at a time of rampant environmental destruction.

For all these reasons, each new release is a moment of excitement, and April 9, 2018, is one of those moments. The second of the 2018 designs is now available, featuring Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin. The America the Beautiful series began in 2010, with five new coins released each year. The obverse is constant – the 1932 design by John Flanagan of a bust profile of George Washington, but it is the ever-changing reverse designs that are of real interest.

For the Apostle Islands design, 9 designers submitted a design, and the winner was Richard Masters, a now-retired Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin. He is a founding member of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, begun in 2004, and he also designed the Effigy Mounds Quarter released in 2017.

There are 21 Apostle Islands, at the end of a long peninsula of Wisconsin, jutting into Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. They were always a shipping hazard, and six islands still have historic lighthouses on them – a total of eight in all. 20 of the islands, and the adjacent shoreline, were declared a National Lakeshore in 1970. With their cliffs, caves, old-growth forest and wildlife, they are popular destinations for visitors.

Richard Masters’ design shows the cliffs around the entrance to the sea caves on Devil’s Island. The island is called this because native people from the area, the Ojibwe, believed it was where the ‘great spirit’ Kitchie-Manitouo imprisoned an evil spirit called Matchi-Manitou. When there are storms the waves crashing inside the sea caves cause a booming noise that can be heard miles away – the sound of the evil spirit crying to escape.

In the distance in Richard Masters’ design is the lighthouse on the island. It was built in 1894, and although now un-used, it has the original Fresnel lens still in place. These special lenses focus and project the light over great distances. Pine trees dot the cliff tops, and in the water below is a kayaker (wearing suitable safety gear) moving along the shoreline. Below the picture is the year of issue, 2018, and around the edges it reads, APOSTLE ISLANDS, WISCONSIN, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The coins are available in 40-coin rolls, singly or in sets, and will soon hit the streets, so check your pockets for the first one you can see. Show them to your children and inspire the next generation of coin collectors.

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