A new generation of coins began in 2010 when the U.S. Mint issued its first America the Beautiful Quarters. The series now is in its sixth year with five new designs for 2015.
These quarters features annually changing designs similar to the U.S. Mint’s 50 States Quarters® Program and the 2009 D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarters Program, but the new coins honor national parks and national sites.
Map of America the Beautiful Quarters
To find information about a quarter, hover on its site location and click.
See also: Quarter Sites Map by State & Territory
As the map above suggests, the new quarters commemorate a historic national park or national site within each:
Unlike the first program that lasted ten years and the second which ran for one, American the Beautiful Quarters will be issued for at least 11 years with a single release scheduled in 2021. The coins are minted for circulation, with special proof, uncirculated and silver versions made for coin collectors.
Through the years, the United States Mint will strike a total of 56 different reverse (tails side) designs, as authorized by America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008.
This act was introduced on June 4, 2008, by Rep. Mike Castle. (Castle also spearheaded the popular 50 States Quarters Program which the U.S. Mint projected had earned the government $6.2 billion dollars.) Former President Bush signed the act on Dec. 23, 2008, and it became Public Law 110-456.
"Since the launch of the successful 50 State Quarters Program 10 years ago, I have been thinking about a follow up program." Castle said after his bill was signed by Bush. "I am encouraged that this program has the potential to be every bit as successful as its predecessor-both as an educational tool and as a collector’s item."
It was the U.S. Mint that officially dubbed the series name, the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Public Law 110-456 provides the guidelines for America the Beautiful Quarters, and a couple of interesting clauses. One gives the Secretary of the Treasury the authority in 2018 (year 9 of the program) to extend the series for an additional 11 years. The other dictates that the U.S. Mint strike "exact duplicates" of the quarters in .999 fine silver. These America the Beautiful Silver Coins weigh 5.0 ounces and have a diameter of 3.0 inches, or double that of the old Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars.
The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Series Act of 2008 provides appropriate design criteria.
As also outline by the U.S. Mint, the reverses (tails side) of America the Beautiful Quarters must be emblematic and:
"honor the national park or other national site in each host jurisdiction deemed most appropriate in terms of natural or historic significance."
The reverse or "tails side" design and selection process can be quite involved. The Federal entity responsible for the supervision, management, or conservancy of each national site appoints a liaison to "assist the United States Mint by identifying source materials for candidate designs."
Using the provided materials and in a cooperation with the liaison, the United States Mint produces three to five candidates per design for a year’s America the Beautiful Quarters..
These are submitted for review and comment to:
- The Secretary of the Interior
- The chief executive of the host jurisdiction (State/District of Columbia/Territory)
- The Commission of Fine Arts (CFA)
- The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) for review and comment.
The United States Mint at its discretion makes changes and submits the quarter design recommendation to the Secretary of the Treasury, who then makes a final selection.
The obverse or "heads side" design of each America the Beautiful Quarter features a restored version of the George Washington portrait that debuted on the quarter-dollar in 1932. William Cousins modified that design slightly and his work has been seen on quarters since the 1999 launch of the 50 State Quarters Program. The new portrait includes, according to a U.S. Mint statement, "subtle details and the beauty of the original model."
The United States Mint announced the 56 national parks and national sites to be honored back on September 9, 2009.
The selection, as determined by law, was made by Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner on August 25, 2009, after "consultation with the governor or chief executive of each host jurisdiction and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar," the U.S. Mint said on the day of the announcement.
As mentioned, 2015 marks the sixth year of the American the Beautiful Quarters series. Included national sites and the designs they honor:
Homestead National Monument of America (NE) – This reverse reflects three fundamentals of survival common to all homesteaders: food, shelter, and water. It was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Ronald D. Sanders and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Jim Licaretz. Reverse inscriptions include HOMESTEAD, NEBRASKA, 2015, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Kisatchie National Forest (LA) – A wild turkey in flight over blue stem grass with a long leaf pine in the background is shown on the reverse of the quarter honoring Kisatchie National Forest. The image was designed by AIP artist Susan Gamble and will be sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. Inscriptions include KISATCHIE, LOUISIANA, 2015, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
- Blue Ridge Parkway (NC) – A road hugging the side of a mountain is seen on the reverse of the Blue Ridge Parkway quarter. The North Carolina state flower in also depicted. AIP artist Frank Morris designed the image with sculpting by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. Inscribed on the reverse is BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY, NORTH CAROLINA, 2015, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
- Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge (DE) – Designed by AIP artist Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill, the reverse offers a great blue heron in the foreground and a great egret in the background. Inscriptions are BOMBAY HOOK, DELAWARE, 2015, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
- Saratoga National Historical Park (NY) – A close-up of the moment General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Horatio Gates is depicted on the reverse of the quarter with the scene often described as the ‘beginning of the end of the American Revolutionary War.’ The reverse was designed by AIP artist Barbara Fox and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Renata Gordon. Inscriptions include BRITISH SURRENDER 1777, SARATOGA, NEW YORK, 2015, and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
The U.S. Mint created a National Site Registry listing the order for the quarters, which was based on when a site was first established as a national park or site. (See the Quarters Release Schedule.)
As in previous quarter-dollar programs, circulating-quality coins are struck by the United States Mint, shipped through the Federal Reserve banking system, and then make their way into daily change.
The U.S. Mint also offers options to order circulation strike America the Beautiful Quarters in bags and rolls. The collector proof and uncirculated coins will be available throughout each year, and directly from the Mint.
Public Law 110-456 does provide an option for the Director of the National Park Service to purchase the silver bullion duplicates for resale. The main distribution for these will be through the U.S. Mint’s authorized dealers.