“Two bits” US quarter design proposed

21 Sep

Could the two bits return to circulation? A Spanish colonial influenced design for the 2019 Texas San Antonio Missions America the Beautiful quarter was recommended by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) on Sept. 19.

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The CCAC-recommended design for the 2019 San Antonio Missions America the Beautiful quarter.

The reverse design is based heavily on Spanish colonial cob reales which circulated widely in North and South America. It was not uncommon to see reales circulating in the American colonies. The adage “two bits” descends from the 2 reales or 2 “bits” of an 8 reales, a denomination that traded at par with a US quarter dollar.

The CCAC-recommended design features a Spanish colonial-style cross in the center. In the four quadrants, there is a mission bell tower in the upper left, a heraldic lion in the upper right, wheat in the lower left and waves in the lower right.

The mission tower and the lion are very similar to the castles and lions found on Spanish colonial cobs, both in design and in placement. The bushel of wheat and waves are modern additions that symbolize the crops grown by the missions using water from the San Antonio River.

Around the design is a raised rim with the legends reading, “SAN ANTONIO MISSIONS,” “TEXAS,” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM” in addition to the date, 2019. The obverse design will be the standard Washington quarter design, shared across all America the Beautiful quarters.

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Reverse of a Mexico City, Mexico cob 2 reales.

Fifteen concepts for the San Antonio Missions quarter were submitted for review. Most featured different views of a mission. Three featured a Spanish colonial cross: the CCAC recommended design, one with the tower and wheat positions swapped as well as a fish leaping out of water and one with the cross extending to the rims.

The San Antonio Missions quarter is one of five new designs set to release in 2019. Quarters commemorating Massachusetts’ Lowell National Historical Park, Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands’ American Memorial Park, Guam’s War in the Pacific National Historical Park and Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness will appear throughout the year. The CCAC discussed 64 total depictions for the five quarter designs.

The designs viewed by the CCAC were also considered by the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). The CFA’s suggestions were not available at press time. Once both groups have selected designs, they will be sent to Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin for approval in early 2018.

In 2019, the United States Mint will strike the five quarter designs throughout the year. The San Antonio Missions quarter is expected to release in late August. If the CCAC-recommended design is chosen, Americans will once again find two bits in their pocket change.

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