The American Women Quarters Program Debuts

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For a little more than a decade, from 2010 to 2021, the U.S. Mint issued 56 different types of quarters in the America the Beautiful series. The reverse on these quarters commemorated one site of national interest from each state, the federal district, and each U.S. territory, making this an interesting set to collect for Americans and travelers especially. In 2022, the U.S. Mint is switching gears with the American Women Quarters Program, minting a series of Washington quarters that honors famous American women. 

The American Women Quarters Program

“Each time we redesign our currency, we have the chance to say something about our country — what we value, and how we’ve progressed as a society. I’m very proud that these coins celebrate the contributions of some of America’s most remarkable women.” –Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen

The American Women Quarters Program was authorized by Public Law 116-330 to commemorate the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California in 2019, passed in 2020, and signed into law in January 2021. 

This will be a four-year coin series, continuing through 2025. Five coins will be issued in 2022. These will include:

  • Maya Angelou, poet and civil rights activist
  • Sally Ride, the first woman in space
  • Wilma Mankiller, the first principal chief of the Cherokee Nation
  • Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American film star
  • Nina Otero-Warren, suffrage activist

These quarters, like the America the Beautiful series, will still feature a portrait of George Washington on the obverse. The reverse of the first coin issue was designed by artist Emily Damstra and sculpted by Craig A. Campbell. It depicts a young Maya Angelou with her arms outstretched. Beams of sunlight surround her head, and her shadow is a silhouette of a bird in flight. This references the title of her famous 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Angelou was a respected and influential American poet and author who passed away in 2014. This coin has already shipped to banks and is available to the public. 

The process of selecting the women who will appear on the coins in this series began last year. The National Women’s History Museum asked the public to submit their suggestions via its online portal. They received more than 11,000 names in four months. From there, the mint began consulting with groups, including the NWHM and the Congressional Bipartisan Women’s Caucus as they vetted the suggestions. Their goal is to highlight American women who have contributed to American history, society, and life. The selections will include women of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. No living women are eligible for selection. The final approval will come from the Treasury Secretary. 

The coins featuring Maya Angelou and Anna May Wong were designed by Emily Damstra who also designed the U.S. Mint’s first pink coin in 2017 to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer. 

If you are interested in collecting quarters from either the American Women or America the Beautiful series, Grand Rapids Coins would be happy to help you locate them. We are always available to assist our customers in either acquisitions, appraisals, or sales of coins. To ask a question or make an appointment with Ben, please call 616-884-5048. 

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