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HomeUS Coins2023-P American Women Bessie Coleman Quarter : A Collector's Guide

2023-P American Women Bessie Coleman Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

2023-P Bessie Coleman Quarter. Image: United States Mint / CoinWeek.
2023-P American Women Bessie Coleman Quarter. Image: United States Mint / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes ….
 

The 2023 Bessie Coleman American Women Quarter was the first coin of the series’ second year and the sixth coin in the four-year, 20-coin program. Authorized by Public Law 116-330 (PDF link), each year from 2022 through 2025 sees the release of five new circulating commemorative reverse designs in the American Women Quarters series honoring the legacies and achievements of diverse women in a wide array of fields.

“Queen Bess”

Elizabeth “Bessie” Coleman was the first African American female (and self-identified Native American) to earn a pilot’s license and fly aircraft professionally. She was born on January 26, 1892, to a large family of sharecroppers in Atlanta, Texas. Moving to Waxahachie when she was young, Coleman worked with her family in the cotton fields and attended a segregated elementary school. Excelling in her studies (especially math), she won a scholarship to study at a Baptist school at age 12. Working and saving money, Coleman attended Langston University in Langston, Texas after graduating from high school. However, her savings ran out after only one year and she had to return home.

After a few years, Coleman moved to Chicago to live with family, and this is where she first learned about the pilots who served in World War I. This inspired her to become a pilot herself, and she got a second job to raise the money she would need to do so.

Unfortunately, there was nowhere an African American woman could get their pilot’s license in the United States at the time. With the help of benefactors like Robert S. Abbott, the founder of The Chicago Defender, an important African American newspaper that fought segregation and saw contributions from such public Black luminaries as the journalist Ida B. Wells and the poet Langston Hughes, Coleman traveled to France in November 1920.

After she earned her pilot’s license in June 1921, she returned to the States in September of that year to much fanfare. But there still weren’t many professional opportunities for a Black woman in American aviation, so Coleman sought more training in France and Germany to make a living as a stunt pilot.

She once again returned to the United States and was a popular draw for the next five years. Coleman’s first airshow, which honored the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment for its service in World War I, took place on Long Island, New York in September 1922 Her plane of choice was the Curtiss JN-4 biplane of “Inverted Jenny” stamp fame.

As she traveled around the country performing stunts in her signature style–criticized by the media of the time as “too flamboyant”–Coleman often gave talks on aviation and African American rights. She also refused to fly in events that excluded Blacks from the audience.

On April 30, 1926, Bessie Coleman ignored the fact that her new plane had to make three emergency landings on its way from Dallas to Jacksonville, Florida and used it anyway in preparation for the next day’s show. The plane unexpectedly went into a dive and threw Coleman–who was not the pilot–from the plane at a height of about 2,000 feet. Her death was deeply mourned in the Black press and a funeral ceremony held in Chicago was led by Ida B. Wells herself.

Today, Bessie Coleman is known for inspiring future generations of African Americans to become pilots, eventually getting licenses in the United States and even flying into space. The 2023 American Women Quarter celebrating the life and legacy of Bessie Coleman is a long-overdue numismatic commemoration of the woman whose fearlessness, hard work, and style earned her the nickname “Queen Bess”.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Except for the Washington Crossing the Delaware one-year reverse type of 2021, the United States Mint has issued multi-year circulating commemorative quarter programs with changing reverses annually since 1999 – namely the 50 State Quarters and America the Beautiful National Park Quarters programs. Yet despite this, collectors have shown more interest in the American Women Quarters series than one might assume. It could be because the designs depict people instead of landscapes or buildings, but it doesn’t hurt that the featured women have interesting stories or that the designs are sometimes highly innovative.

The Mint shipped P- and D-mint Bessie Coleman Quarters to banks starting January 3, 2023, with the coin entering circulation by the end of that month. Bags and rolls for collectors went on sale February 14. Like other entries in the American Women Quarters series, these products included 100-coin bags of uncirculated business strike quarters (P or D), which were sold for $40.00 each; a two-roll set consisting of one roll each from Philadelphia and Denver for a total of 80 coins, which sold for $36.00; and a three-roll set of P-, D-, and S-mint quarters, which sold for $54.00.

At the time of publication in June 2024, NGC reports a total of 892 grading events, with 115 coins in the top pop grade of MS68. Auction prices for such a new coin are hard to come by (and the market is correspondingly underdeveloped), but one eBay seller has sold multiple NGC MS66 examples over the last three months:

  • March 16 – $5.05
  • March 25 – $3.25
  • April 7 – $3.00
  • April 25 – $5.00
  • May 7 – $6.50
  • May 18 – $1.75
  • June 2 – $5.50

As you can see, prices center around the $5 mark but are far from settled. All of the examples above had First Day of Issue American Women novelty inserts, which probably influenced the prices realized.

PCGS reports 899 total grading events for the 2023-P Bessie Coleman Quarter, with the numbers of PCGS-certified coins in all grades with basic (297) and First Strike labels (280) being quite close. The top grade of MS67 has a population of 327 specimens in June 2024, and one of those coins (#49046209) sold for $49.95 on April 28, 2024.

CAC Grading has neither graded nor stickered any 2023-P Bessie Coleman Quarters.

While no completed listings for raw quarters were found at the time of writing, ordinary rolls of 40 quarters ($10 face value) have sold on eBay in recent months for around $18.

Top Population: PCGS MS67 (327, 6/2024), NGC MS68 (115, 6/2024), and CAC N/A (0:0 stickered:graded, 6/2024).

  • PCGS MS67 #49046209: eBay, April 28, 2024 – $49.95.

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Design

Obverse:

Instead of a version of John Flanagan’s bust of George Washington that has been on the front of the quarter since 1932, the common obverse of all American Women Quarters depicts a portrait of Washington originally sculpted by Laura Gardin Fraser to mark Washington’s 200th birthday. Though her work was a recommended design for the 1932 quarter, then-Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon ultimately selected the familiar Flanagan design.

The word LIBERTY arcs clockwise along the top of the rim; the four words of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST are divided into four lines on the left side of the coin, behind Washington’s head. The P mintmark for the Philadelphia Mint is located below the date 2023 on the right.

Reverse:

A calm and confident Bessie Coleman, dressed in a leather helmet, gloves, and flight jacket, looks into the distance as she lowers her aviator’s goggles from her forehead in preparation for a flight. To the viewer’s right, a Curtiss JN-4 biplane soars above a thick patch of clouds. Immediately above the scene is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination QUARTER DOLLAR, in a sans serif font and separated by an incuse dot, wrap clockwise around the top half of the rim. Below the main scene, the name BESSIE COLEMAN is inscribed in the exergue at a slight forward angle suggesting motion. Three stout lines suggesting wings are located to either side of BESSIE, rendered in a style reminiscent of the Top Gun logo. Beneath her name is the date 6-15-21, which is when Coleman was awarded her international pilot’s license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in Paris.

United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Chris Costello created the design; his initials CTC are located to the left of COLEMAN. Mint Medallic Artist Eric David Custer sculpted Costello’s design; his initials EC are located on the right.

The following video from the Mint briefly discusses the 2023-P American Women Bessie Coleman Quarter:

 

Edge:

The edge of the 2023-P Bessie Coleman Quarter is reeded with 119 reeds.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year of Issue: 2023
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (25 Cents USD)
Mintmark: P (Philadelphia)
Mintage:
Alloy: .750 copper, .250 nickel outer layer, bonded to pure copper inner core
Weight: 5.67 g
Diameter: 24.26 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Laura Gardin Fraser
REV Designer: Chris Costello | Eric David Custer
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I have a 2000 quarter with a mint defect. At the bottom the word quarter is covered by a slice of the edge that got cut of and folded over. And stamped over the word quarter. The lines around the edge of the coin are stamped into the part that was cut off .on revers side half of Massachusetts is covered by two dents

  2. I would like a response please. I don’t know how to send a pic on this sit. I’m in grass valley calif. It’s a mint mistake with the die. I have surched and can’t find anything about this quarter. Please email me so I can send a photo so I can move forward. Thank you.

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