By CoinWeek News Staff ….
On March 15, U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA13) and Bruce Poliquin (R-ME2) introduced H.R. 5308 – the Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act – to Congress. The bill celebrates the 100th anniversary of the amendment that guarantees a woman’s right to vote by requiring the Mint to issue a new multi-year program of quarters that feature noteworthy women from each state, district and territory in the country.
Women’s History & 19th Amendment Quarter Act
Introduced during Women’s History month, the bipartisan bill would initiate another issue of 56 commemorative reverses immediately after the conclusion of the America the Beautiful Quarter program with the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site quarter from Alabama in 2021 – the 56 quarters consisting of entries from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Each state or territory’s governor or chief administrator would work with local women’s groups to choose their quarter’s representative.
Naturally, the new program would supercede a second round of ATB quarters, which the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-456; Source: PDF) does allow. If th proposed bill commemorating the 19th Amendment fails to pass, then the Treasury Secretary would have until the end of 2018 to decide whether or not to do this. Failing both, the quarter would revert to its 1998, pre-50 State Quarter program heraldic eagle reverse and adaptation of John Flanagan’s bust of George Washington.
Which would be a welcome move to some collectors, who have felt nostalgia for the old design in the intervening decades since it last saw production. The 50 State Quarters program ran from 1999 through 2008 (Washington, D.C. and the United States territories got their own quarters in 2009). This was followed up by the America the Beautiful Quarters program, which started in 2010.
If, however, the Women’s History and 19th Amendment Quarter Act is passed, the ATB quarter law will be amended to say that the last quarter under that program would be issued sometime between January 1 and March 31, 2021. The first Women’s History quarter would then be issued between January 15 and March 31. As with previous programs, a maximum of five quarters would be released per year.
If enacted, the bill mandates that the Treasury Secretary (currently Steven Mnuchin) begin the process of choosing candidates for each quarter no later than December 1, 2018. He would than have to conduct a study on the selection process and submit a report on it to Congress no later than March 1 of 2019.
The Secretary also has authority over the actual design submission process, though the bill seeks to encourage the participation of local artists from each state and territory. But since it is the Age of the Internet, the bill includes language that makes the decision process easier and allows for the rejection of “frivolous” designs.
Each state and territory’s governor or chief administrator will recommend designs to the Treasury in coordination with local women’s groups and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) in Washigton, D.C. Once this is done, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) will review the designs and make their own recommendations to the Secretary.
Rules for potential honorees state that only an individual may honored (excluding groups), she must be deceased, and that the design may not depict a head and shoulders bust or otherwise be created in such a way that the quarter appears to be a “double-headed” coin.
The first five designs would be ready to publish no later than August 31, 2020 – five days after the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
The bill also includes a clause that authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to produce a quarter for any new state or territory that may join the union before the completion of the program in any year of his or her choosing.
After the Women’s History Quarter program comes to a conclusion, the Act specifies that the quarter obverse would revert to the 1998 version and the reverse would portray General Washington crossing the Delaware River before the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War, a reverse design for the quarter that has been proposed in the past.
Of course, future legislation could be introduced that leads to another commemorative reverse program for the quarter dollar coin.
Silver & Bullion Coins
H.R. 5308 authorizes the United States Mint to produce Proof and Uncirculated numismatic versions of each quarter in 90% silver. Bullion versions of the silver Not-Intended-For-Circulation coins could also be produced; these would be required to be three inches in diameter and consist of five ounces of .999 fine (99.9% pure) silver. The fineness and weight would be incused onto the edge of each coin and all would bear the denomination of “quarter dollar”. Fractional weights and denominations are expressly prohibited by the bill.
Both the numismatic and bullion versions would be available only during the circulating quarter’s year of issue (until December 31 of that year).
Behind the Bill
Representative Barbara Lee clarified in an interview with CNN that she intends the legislation to honor “unsung” heroes who haven’t received the recognition they might deserve. She also spoke about working with ex-United States Treasurer Rosie Rios on the bill. Rios, who has been an avid participant in the hobby, meeting with and making herself available to collectors by attending numerous coin and currency shows over her almost seven-year tenure (August 2009 – July 2016), has long sought to increase the portrayal of women on our nation’s money. She was perhaps most notably involved with efforts to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 Federal Reserve Note.
“I had a whole plan,” Rios told CNN recently. “It wasn’t just a woman for the sake of a woman. I knew our timeline was 2020, the suffrage centennial. This is about giving half your population the chance to participate.”
For his part, Republican representative Bruce Poliquin seems optimistic.
“I think we’re going to have plenty of support,” he said. “It’s about women in our society and our country and economy.”
Below is a widget, courtesy of govtrack.us, that will update as the bill progresses through Congress:
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