Guide to America the Beautiful Quarters
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program continued the tradition of highlighting the beauty and diversity of the United States with unique reverse designs on circulating quarter dollars. The series featured a National Park or national site from each of the 50 states, 5 U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. A total of 56 different designs were released between 2010 and 2021 at a rate of five designs per year, with one design released in the final year of the series.
America the Beautiful Quarters Program
America the Beautiful Quarters were authorized under Public Law 110-456, America’s Beautiful National parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The authorizing legislation was introduced on June 4, 2008 and signed into law on December 23, 2008 by President George W. Bush.
The Act provided for the “redesign and issuance of quarters dollars emblematic of National Sites in each state, the District of Columbia, and each territory.” Guidelines were provided for the selection of sites, design approval process, order of release, and the period of issuance.
The Secretary of the Treasury was also provided with the option of extending the America the Beautiful Quarters series to a second round of designs. However, this option was not exercised, resulting in only one round of designs. Following the completion of the program, a new reverse design was adopted depicting George Washington crossing the Delaware River.
America the Beautiful Quarter Designs
The reverse design for each quarter was developed through cooperation of the United States Mint and the Federal entity responsible for the supervision, management, or conservancy of each site. A liaison was appointed to provide the US Mint with source documents that were used to prepare candidate designs.
Design proposals for each America the beautiful Quarter were reviewed by the Commission of Fine Arts, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, the governor of each jurisdiction, and the Secretary of the Interior. The final designs were selected by the United States Secretary of the Treasury, taking into account the recommendation of the United States Mint and the feedback provided through the review process.
The obverse design of each quarter featured a restored version of the portrait of George Washington created by John Flanagan for the 1932 Washington Quarter. Over the years, the portrait had undergone gradual modifications including a significant modernization for the State Quarters series. The restored version carried the appearance of the original portrait, although at a slightly reduced size to accommodate the additional inscriptions.
Schedule and Release Dates
The Secretary of the Treasury was required to selected the 56 National Parks and sites to be featured for the series within 270 days of enactment of the bill. On September 9, 2009, the register of sites for the program was unveiled. The order of release was also established based on the order the sites were federally designated.
The sites included 48 National Park service areas, 5 National Forests, 1 Wilderness area, and 2 National Wildlife Refuges. The earliest established site was Hot Springs National Park of Arkansas, which was federally designated on April 20, 1832 as Hot Springs Reservation. The most recent established site was the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site of Alabama, federally designated on November 6, 1998.
Special Collectible Products
During the course of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the United States Mint released several innovative collectible products. The authorizing legislation specifically provided for a unique silver bullion coin program. For the duration of the series, over-sized silver bullion duplicates of each quarter were produced by the United States Mint. Each coin contained 5 ounces of .999 fine silver and had a diameter of 3 inches. The designs were an exact duplicate of each quarter, including the denomination “quarter dollar.”
Starting in 2012, the Mint struck limited numbers of circulating quality coins carrying the “S” mint mark, which were sold directly to collectors within numismatic bags and rolls. Lastly, for 2019 and 2020, the Mint struck circulating quality coins carrying the “W” mint mark, which were released directly into circulation in an effort to encourage interest in coin collecting.