Dear Mr. Moy:
In its meeting of 17 September, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed alternatives for the first five reverse designs for the "America the Beautiful" Quarters Program. The Commission provided several general comments regarding this coin series program, acknowledging the challenge of depicting a variety of national sites—many of which are notable for their vast scale—on the small size of a quarter. They recommended the use of familiar iconic images when feasible, in order to assist the public in recognizing these small-scale depictions of major scenic landmarks; they commented further that the source material should not be limited to that provided by the park superintendents.
The Commission members expressed general support for the proposed template for the reverse but strongly recommended that the inner circle be continuous, eliminating the flat segment shown at the bottom of each coin; they emphasized the critical importance of the circle's continuity as a fundamental design element. The Commission's recommendations for the five coins were as follows:
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. The Commission recommended alternative #2, depicting the doorway of the park's main building from the 1930s. The Commission members commented favorably on the simplicity of this design but questioned the quality of the drawings presented, and recommended that the small National Park Service sign beside the doorway be eliminated from the design due to its illegibility at the scale of a coin.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The Commission rejected all of the designs presented for their poor quality. The Commission members supported the idea of depicting Old Faithful, but suggested consideration of additional source material, such as the paintings of Thomas Moran.
Yosemite National Park, California. The Commission recommended alternative #4 depicting the Half Dome rock formation, with the comment that the artwork appears unfinished and should be further developed. The Commission suggested that other historic sources, such as the photographs of Ansel Adams, be considered in refining this image.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The Commission acknowledged the difficulty of distinguishing the subject from its previous depiction on the Arizona state quarter, a concern that may recur over the course of this new series. The Commission recommended alternative #1, due the depth of the perspective view, but suggested several modifications. Noting that the foreground scree is given too much dominance in the composition, the Commission members recommended shifting the strong vertical alignment at the center of the coin to the right to emphasize the deep perspective toward the left side of the composition.
Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon. The Commission recommended alternative #3 due to its superior composition and simplicity of elements.
As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
Edmund C. Moy, Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220
cc: Kaarina Budow, U.S. Mint