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Mystery solved...

5 posts in this topic

But I still don't know WHY they did it!


So I did a bit more digging after yesterdays post. What I initially surmised is true. The sharp, detailed, and slightly modified obverse of the State and Territory quarters of 1999-2009 has been forgone in the 2010 America The Beautiful quarters.


The original bust design of the Washington Quarter Dollar first minted in 1932 was the work of John Flanagan. This classic and extremely recognizable design was a mainstay from 1932-1998 (save the slightly noticeable double-dated 1776-1976 bicentennial release).


In 1999, many of the design elements were moved around, bringing the "UNITED STATED OF AMERICA" and "QUARTER DOLLAR" text to the obverse to make room for the State/Territory designs of the reverse. The text "LIBERTY" was moved to the left of the Washington bust, and the motto "IN GOD WE TRUST" was moved to the right just above the mintmark. Pretty significantly, the date was move to the reverse. ALSO in 1999 the bust of Washington was modified to be smaller and more detailed. This modified obverse is attributed to William Cousins.


Beginning in 2010 with the introduction of the America The Beautiful quarters, the mint decided to return to the older, less detailed, and "softer" version of the Washington bust. Though, to my eye it still seems a bit smaller than the pre-1999 original Flanagan bust.


Coins minted from 1932-1998 and from 2010-present bear the designer initials of only John Flanagan (JF). From 1999-2009, the neckline of the bust also included the initials of William Cousins (WC).


BUT, the question still stands....


WHY would the mint revert to this muttled, worn looking bust?


Just some food for thought...


Happy collecting!



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There were also several design modifications between 1965 and 1998. The Spaghetti Hair quarters after about 1995 are absurd, and I personally welcome any reversion back to an earlier design. Unfortunately, the 2010 bust is smaller and of lower relief than the original 1932 design, causing it to lose the 3-dimensionality of the original, which made up for its indistinct fine details.

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I don't disagree that too much detail in the hair can look ridiculous. Unfortunately, it isn't just the hair that they messed around with on the 2010 quarter.


Firstly, the lack of detail in the bow of the pony-tail is pathetic (red arrow). You can not discern separate ribbons around the hair nor the loops of the bow itself. It's just a flat mushy mess.


Secondly, the subtler but still detailed separation of at least some of the pony-tail hair is evident in the 1994 quarter, while the 2010 detail is non-existent (green arrows).


Lastly, and most annoying, they altered the angle of orientation of the bust. If you orient the coin with the motto completely horizontal, the 1994 coin design faces properly forward as is evidenced by the exactly vertical line of orientation from the corner of the eye to the front edge of the bust. The 2010 design is clearly rotated and facing upward in a ridiculous snobbish and visually unappealing manner (blue reference lines).


All in all, if you're going to "revert" to something considered classic, then do it right.



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