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Cumberland Island ‘America the Beautiful’ Quarter Release

August 27, 2018 0 Comments

Cumberland Island National Seashore is one of the most ecologically diverse places in America. So its appearance on the latest in the on-going America the Beautiful Quarters® series is especially significant, in these times of climate fears and growing pressure for action.

Cumberland Island National Seashore preserves most of Cumberland Island, the most southern of the Georgia Barrier Islands, known as the Golden Isles. It is also the largest, and its dunes, beaches, marshes and freshwater lakes are the source of its diversity. Many plants, animals and birds make their homes here, most notably sea birds, particularly migratory species. No fewer than 23 different habitats can be found on the island, which was preserved for posterity in 1972, with a wilderness area added in 1982. The island is carefully managed by the National Parks Service, and access is only by boat. Campers can only stay seven days, and no more than 300 people can visit at any one time.

Featured on the quarter, which entered circulation on August 27, is a snowy egret, wings outspread and about to take off from the branch it stands on. This is just one of the many birds on the island, which range from green herons to pileated woodpeckers, as well as ospreys and even the occasional bald eagle. The design was created by Donna Weaver, a retired sculptor-engraver at the US Mint, who now works with the Artistic Infusion Program. She is based in Madison, Indiana. The sculpting of her design was by the well-known and always busy Don Everhart, at the Mint.

Besides the usual review process by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC), the design was approved by National Parks staff working on Cumberland Island. The engraving around the image of the snowy egret is, CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GEORGIA, 2018 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. Besides the circulation coins, this quarter will also be released as silver-clad proof, solid-silver proof and solid-silver reverse proof coins, for collectors.

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. On the reverse are the words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, QUARTER DOLLAR, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST, and the mint mark. All the versions of this quarter will be struck at the San Francisco Mint facility, and so they will carry the mark. ‘S’.

Although Cumberland Island has no paved roads, no vehicles besides bicycles, no store, and no hot water, it does have a museum, the Ice House, which contains artefacts from the history of the island, which stretches back into prehistoric times. More detailed history can be found at the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum, in St. Marys, Georgia, which is the mainland entrance to the island. Once a holiday retreat for the wealthy during the Gilded Age, the Plum Orchard Mansion is still intact, but the Carnegie Dungeness Mansion and its gardens are today ruins. The historic cemetery can also be seen.

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