The America the Beautiful Quarters Program debuted on the heels of the 50 State Quarters Program and its adjunct District of Columbia and Territories program.
Authorized by Public Law 110–456 (source: PDF), the America the Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, called for the “issuance of redesigned quarters dollars emblematic of national parks or other national sites in each state, the District of Columbia, and each territory.
Similar to the issuance order of the 50 State Quarters Program, America the Beautiful National Parks quarters are issued one per state, based on the order in which the selected site was first established as a National Park.
The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter, representing West Virginia, is the third issue of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program for 2016 and the 33rd issue in the entire series.
Harpers Ferry is a historic town located at the junction of Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. It is best known as the site of John Brown’s raid on the United States Federal Armory there in 1859.
John Brown (1800-1859) was an evangelical christian and radical abolitionist who believed that only violent insurrection would end slavery in the United States and free those who had been enslaved. Born in Connecticut of Puritan stock, Brown’s family would move to Ohio, where he grew up. He raised a family and ran a successful business in Pennsylvania before moving his large blended family back to Ohio in 1836.
The following year proved a galvanizing one for his beliefs, when the abolitionist newspaper editor and minister Elijah P. Lovejoy was murdered by a pro-slavery mob destroying his printing press in Illinois. The Browns later moved to the abolitionist stronghold of Springfield, Massachusetts in 1846. At the Free Church in Springfield, John Brown was able to meet such luminaries of the movement as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. Brown established the city as an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and in 1850 formed a militia in response to the passage of the detested Fugitive Slave Act.
Brown would later invite Douglass to take part in the raid on Harpers Ferry but Douglass would decline.
In the late 1850s, Brown traveled to Kansas to help his sons defend their anti-slavery communities from pro-slavery militias in the violent prelude to the American Civil War known as “Bleeding Kansas“.
Gaining secret financial backing from wealthy East Coast abolitionists, Brown began to plan armed assaults against the institutions of slavery. At a meeting in Ontario, Canada, John Brown met the noted abolitionist and former slave Harriet Tubman. “General Tubman” provided on-the-ground intelligence and logistical support to Brown and his scheme but was ultimately not able to join him on his raid of the armory due to illness.
On October 16, 1859, John Brown and over 20 of his men attacked the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, then a part of the southern slave state of Virginia. The primary goal was to incite a larger slave rebellion, arming said rebellion with the weapons and munitions seized from Harpers Ferry. The abolitionists held the building known as John Brown’s Fort for three days but the revolt was quickly put down by marines under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee (at the behest of President James Buchanan) after an initial request for surrender was refused by the attackers.
John Brown was executed by hanging on December 2.
John Brown’s Fort was dismantled in the early 1890s and rebuilt in 1895 at a different location. Ownership changed hands a few times before it was bought by the National Park Service (NPS) in 1960. The NPS moved it to a new location in Harpers Ferry much closer to where the events of 1859 transpired.
The park itself became a National Historical Park in 1963.
A modern reworking of John Flanagan’s Washington quarter design. Washington’s left-facing bust sits in the center of the coin. Flanagan’s initials “JF” is visible in the bust truncation. Wrapping around the top of the coin is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. To Washington’s left is the inscription LIBERTY. To his right, the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The coin’s denomination wraps around the bottom of the coin, written as QUARTER DOLLAR.
The reverse of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park prominently features John Brown’s Fort. Encircling the main design is a ring that includes (clockwise from the top) the inscriptions HARPERS FERRY, E PLURIBUS UNUM, the year 2016, and WEST VIRGINIA. Beneath the fort in the main central design is the inscription JOHN BROWN’S FORT.
United States Artistic Infusion Program artist Thomas Hipschen designed the reverse; his initials are located at the bottom left corner of the building next to the words WEST VIRGINIA.
Mint designer Phebe Hemphill engraved and modified Hipschen’s design. Her initials are found to the right of the fort, next to the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Designer(s): American sculptor John Flanagan’s work in the medallic and metal arts ranks him as one of the best artists of his generation. For generations of coin collectors, he is best known for his Washington quarter design (View Designer’s Profile). Part of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program, Thomas Hipschen previously worked for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), where he engraved the portraits of Franklin ($100), Grant ($50), Jackson ($20), and Lincoln ($5) that grace contemporary Federal Reserve notes. Designer Phebe Hemphill joined the U.S. Mint in 2006, and since that time has become one of the nation’s most prolific coin designers (View Designer’s Profile).
|Year Of Issue:||2016|
|Mint Mark:||P, D, S (Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco)|
|Alloy:||91.67% Copper, 8.33% Nickel (business strike, clad proof)|
|Weight:||5.67 grams (Cu-Ni)|
|Diameter:||0.955 in. (24.3 mm)|
|OBV Designer||John Flanagan|
|REV Designer||Thomas Hipschen/Phebe Hemphill|
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America the Beautiful Quarters Currently Available on eBay