In an article on the United States Mint website, it has been confirmed that the 2022 Washington Quarter Obverse will carry the design completed 90 years ago by Laura Gardin Fraser. The design, which was originally submitted for consideration of the coin back in 1931, was ultimately not selected but has remained one of the favorite designs by historians and collectors.
As readers know, the 2022 Washington Quarter series will feature the new American Women Quarter Program, featuring a Reverse design honoring pivotal American women in the country’s history. In 2022, five coins will be released featuring Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, Nina Otero-Warren, and Anna May Wong. You can read more about those designs in this article. To this point, the Mint had not been clear on if the Obverse would remain the same design from John Flannigan. That design has appeared on the Quarter since 1932. The Mint has now confirmed that the Fraser design will be on the Obverse.
In 1931, Congress held a competition to design a coin to honor the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. The original competition called for the obverse of the coin to feature a portrait of George Washington, based on the famed life-mask bust by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. The reverse was to feature a design that was to be “national” in nature.
Laura Gardin Fraser submitted a design that features a right-facing portrait of George Washington on the obverse, while the reverse shows an eagle with wings spread wide. In a 1932 letter to recommend Fraser’s design, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) wrote to (then) Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon. While her design was popular, it was not chosen. Instead, Secretary Mellon ultimately selected the left-facing John Flannigan design.
Fraser’s design, however, was not forgotten. The Mint revived it 68 years later for the 1999 George Washington Commemorative Gold $5 Coin. Starting next year, it will be a part of our circulating coins.