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Modern US Coins – 2017 America the Beautiful Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter

United States 2017 America the Beautiful - Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter. Image courtesy US Mint


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 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter, representing Washington, D.C., is the second of five issues from the America the Beautiful Quarters Program for 2017 and the 37th issue in the entire series.


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 features Frederick Douglass, perhaps the most famous African-American abolitionist, writer and orator of the 19th century, sitting at his writing desk in front of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. He looks directly at the viewer with a stern facade, a tactic he used purposefully as he believed that photography was a useful tool for the betterment of the lives of African-Americans (since it supposedly presented the unvarnished truth), and how he appeared to the world in this way was important.

Douglass was born a slave in Maryland but after repeated attempts to escape he succeeded around the age of 20 in 1838, journeying to New York City and later settling in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He traveled the country and the world, working tirelessly for the freedom of his people and for the social reforms necessary to make the United States live up to the values inherent in its founding documents. In the last decades of his life, Douglass resided at a house named Cedar Hill in Washington, D.C. Frederick Douglass died on February 20, 1895.

His widow founded a memorial association in 1900, which owned Cedar Hill in coordination with the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. The National Park Service (NPS) took ownership of the house in 1962, and officially entered it into the National Park System on September 5 of that year. It was reorganized as a National Historic Site in 1988.

The coin’s inscriptions are found in an outer ring that cordons off the central design. FREDERICK DOUGLASS arcs across the top of the coin, while DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA runs counterclockwise on the left. Beneath the exergue is the date 2017. Running counterclockwise in the bottom right quadrant of the outer ring is the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM.

United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) artist Thomas R. Hipschen designed the reverse; his initials “TRH” are signed to the left of Douglass’s left hand, next to the “A” in COLUMBIA. Mint sculptor Phebe Hemphill adapted and engraved the design; her initials “PH” are located under Douglass’s left forearm.


Like all of the business strike and Proof quarters in the America the Beautiful series, the edge of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site quarter is reeded.


In 2009, the U.S. Mint issued the Washington, D.C. District of Columbia and United States Territories quarter, featuring District resident and famed African-American jazz composer Duke Ellington. This makes the 2017 Frederick Douglass National Historic Site quarter the second of two quarters representing Washington, D.C. that commemorate the legacies and contributions of notable African-Americans to the history and culture of the United States.

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).

Coin Specifications:

Country:  USA
Year Of Issue:  2017
Denomination:  Quarter Dollar
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. (24.26 mm)
Edge:  Reeded
OBV Designer  John Flanagan
REV Designer  Thomas Hipschen | Phebe Hemphill
Quality:  Uncirculated, Proof

Keep up with all the latest coin releases from the United States Mint by clicking on CoinWeek’s Modern U.S. Coin Profiles Page.

CoinWeek IQ
CoinWeek IQ
With CoinWeek IQ, the editors and writers of CoinWeek dig deeper than the usual numismatic article. CoinWeek IQ provides collectors and numismatists with in-depth information, pedigree histories, and market analysis of U.S. coins and currency.

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  1. I know all about this quarter debut. But what I want to know is more about the original Frederick Douglass quarter that was issued sometime around 1940-1955 range. And I do know they were in existance as I have 2 original quarters myself.

    • Hi Andrew,

      There were no Frederick Douglas quarters issued by the United States Mint. From 1946-1954, the U.S. Mint did issue two commemorative half dollar series featuring the likenesses of African Americans Booker T. Washington and then later Booker T. Washington with George Washington Carver.


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