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Designs submitted for review

Drawings of designs for the Washington, D.C., quarter as well as those for the five insular territories – Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands have been sent to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in anticipation of its May 15 meeting and to the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee for its May 20 meeting review.

Some of the coins contain inscriptions in three languages – English, Latin and the islands’ native languages – and each contains design elements that were suggested by government authorities and forwarded to the Mint. The accompanying illustrations were obtained early through a Freedom of Information Act inquiry.

Edmund C. Moy, U.S. Mint director, transmitted the designs May 1 to Earl Powell III, chairman of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.

The District of Columbia’s original design concept included the phrase, “No taxation without representation,” but that was rejected by Moy as too political and inimical to the design process.

Congress has ceded design authority to the Treasury Secretary, who must first consult with the Fine Arts unit and also the Citizens Coinage advisory group.

Three separate designs emerged from the hands of Mint artists following the District of Columbia controversy: first is Benjamin Banneker with the tools of his trade, surveying the federal district. Second is Frederick Douglass, the black abolitionist, and third is Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington in formal wear at the piano with the same inscription on each: “Justice for all.”




The Commission also received a design from a private citizen Robert Oehschlager of Fredericksburg, Va, showing a map of the federal district, the year of its creation (1790) and an edifice defined as “Our Nation’s Capitol.” It was unclear whether the Commission was going to include this design in its review.


On Feb. 25, the mayor and council forwarded three design concepts to the Mint, each of which contained the phrase “No taxation without representation,” a reference to the fact that the District of Columbia residents, alone among American citizens, have no U.S. senator or voting congressional representative.

Mayor Adrian Fenty, elected by the people, and a non-voting congressional delegate, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., supported the inflammatory language.

“The new quarter will teach people across the country about our city and its history,” said Fenty Feb. 25. “It’s my hope that those who don’t know about our disenfranchisement will soon learn about it when they’re paying a toll or buying a soda.”

Under the Mint guidelines, designs are no longer drawn but rather “concepts” are described in writing.

Initially, the three 25-cent designs depicted the District flag, which originated from the Washington family crest some 600 years ago; astronomer and mathematician Benjamin Banneker; and Duke Ellington.

The Mint also rejected the first choice because its guidelines preclude the use of flags.

The second coin is the quarter from Puerto Rico, whose two designs use a Spanish phrase: “Palacio de Santa Catalina,” the fortress that serves as the governor’s residence. Puerto Rico’s is the oldest government building in continuous use in the Americas, dating to 1533.



The second design bears the phrase “Isla del Encanto” (the enchanted island), and shows a fortress parapet and Puerto Rico’s national flower, the flor de maga. The maga is closely related to hibiscus but unlike the common hibiscus, the maga is a tree.

American Samoa has three possible designs, two of which use the Samoan phrase “Samoa Muamua le atua” (In Samoa, God is first).




On Feb. 1, 2008, Lt. Gov. Ipulasi Aitofele Sunia announced that 55 submissions of designs for a Territorial quarter had been received by the governor.

Ipulasi said the common thread in the designs were the tanoa (ava bowl), fue (fly whisk), to’oto’o (oratory staff), Fale Samoa and the niu/popo (coconut).

Guam’s designs contain the phrase “Guahan i Tano Man Chamorro, and all are distinctive.

“We are one step closer to circulating an image of our island throughout our country that will make us all very proud and showcase the beauty and distinctiveness of our culture,” said Gov. Felix Perez Camacho.

On March 3, the governor’s office released the two final design choices to the U.S. Mint: the outline of Guam sitting in the Center of the coin, with the phrase “GuAyhan TAynA I Man Chamorro” written on the left side. The phrase, also on Guam license plates, means “Land of the Chamorro,” the pre-colonial inhabitants of the island.



The right side shows images of the Latte and the Flying Proa, one sitting on top of the other. (The Latte is not a Starbuck’s special, but rather the foundation remains of stone pillars noted for their two-piece construction. The supporting column (halagi) is topped with a capstone (tasa).)

Also worked with: a collage of Guam’s most familiar cultural and tropical images, featuring East Hagayta Bay with the Two Lovers Point in the background. In the foreground is a coconut tree bending toward the left. To the right of the coconut tree is the phrase, “Tayna I Man Chamorro.” To the left of the coconut tree is a Flying Proa, distant from the shore and sailing within the reef. To the right of the base of the coconut tree is a latte. To the left of the base of the coconut tree is a break in the sand bar depicting the Hagauta River Channel.

U.S. Virgin Islands uses the phrase, which is the territorial motto, “United in Pride and Hope.” One coin design contains a palm tree, a Yellow Elder or Yellow rumpet flower and a Yellow Breast bird. Another bears the motto “First in Freedom.”

One design shows the Islands – St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. John – another shows a native blowing a conch shell.



Northern Marianas has two design choices, both of which focus on what looks like an elevated mortar and pestal, birds, boats and fauna. The mortar-like design is really a latte. This is a traditional foundation stone used in building. Also seen: a tourist and birds just completing a journey.




After the CFA and CCAC reviews, which occur after this paper goes to press, the final design choice will be made by the governors/mayors and the Treasury secretary.

The final designs will go into production in 2009 at the rate of one every eight weeks, more or less.

The territorial quarters came about after years of discussion. Legislation was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Dec. 26, 2007.

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