It is being reported that the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee is considering changing the obverse of the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coins (Public Law Number 110-456 [GPO: Text or PDF]). My source pointed that that the law does not specify what is to be on the obverse of the coin only that the 1998 George Washington design. Rather than recommend a design with Washington on the reverse, the CCAC is considering honoring Theodore Roosevelt on the obverse.
Theodore Roosevelt is credited with starting a modern renaissance of US coinage. When Roosevelt became president in 1901, he expressed his disdain for the sameness of the coinage designed by then chief engraver Charles E. Barber. Roosevelt want our coinage to reflect the greatness of the nation. He wanted a more modern classical design. Roosevelt enlisted the help of the greatest sculpture of the time, Augustus Saint Gaudens, to execute what Roosevelt called his “pet crime.”
Duriung Roosevelt’s presidency, he was directly involved with the redesign of the gold coinage using the designs of Saint Gaudens on the eagle ($10) and double eagle ($20), Bela Lyon Pratt’s incuse design for the half-eagle ($5) and quarter eagle ($2.50) coins, and Victor David Brenner’s Lincoln Cent. The other Barber designs coin were retired by 1916.
In addition to Roosevelt’s influence on coinage, he was instrumental in growing the number of national parks and protected areas in the United States. Roosevelt, who spent a lot of time in the Badlands in the Dakota Territory influenced his view by setting aside 42 million acres of national forests, 53 national wildlife refuges, and other areas including the Grand Canyon.
Roosevelt started the program that lead to the National Wildlife Refuge system and established the US Forest Service to help maintain these natural resources.
To honor Theodore Roosevelt’s conservation work and preservation of many national parks and refuges and his “pet crime” for his redesign of US coinage, it would be fitting to honor him on the National Park Quarters. As a fan of our 28th president and his work, I have advocated that Theodore Roosevelt be honored on US coinage. If the CCAC follows through with this recommendation, it would make the National Parks Quaters more palatable.
Image of Theodore Roosevelt is from the White House website.