The United States Mint has finalized the design of a new coin that when released next year will honor America’s first woman to fly into space.
The U.S. Mint on Wednesday (Oct. 6) displayed the official artwork for the first five coins in its new American Women Quarters Program. As directed by Congress, the four-year program will feature coins with reverse (or tail’s side) designs that are emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of trailblazing American women.
One of the first coins to be issued in 2022 will recognize the achievements of the late NASA astronaut Sally Ride.
Sally Ride: First American woman in space
Following the recommendations of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen chose a design showing Ride sitting next to a window on the space shuttle. The depiction was inspired by something Ride said: “But when I wasn’t working, I was usually at a window looking down at Earth,” according to April Stafford, director of the Office of Design Management for the U.S. Mint.
The design also includes the inscriptions “United States of America,” “Quarter Dollar,” “Sally Ride” and “E Pluribus Unum,” the latter a traditional motto of the United States meaning “out of many, one” in Latin.
“The placement of ‘E Pluribus Unum’ is intentionally positioned over Earth, next to America, indicating that out of all of the women in the United States, Dr. Ride was the first into space,” said Stafford.
The chosen design was created by fine artist Elana Hagler, a member of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program.
“I think about making something that will do justice to this absolutely amazing human being and the impact she made on our country,” Hagler said in an interview with the Space Foundation. “That’s a tall order, because she was very incredible and I don’t want to design something that will fall short of her accomplishments.”
Describing her design process, Hagler said she was foremost thinking about the children who come in contact with the Sally Ride quarter.
“I think about all of the children, in general, but I especially think about the little girls because I know she [Ride] was very committed to science education for girls in particular,” said Hagler. “There is just something about holding up heroes where we can see ourselves reflected in them. It widens possibilities for us, it widens our horizons.”
“I think about how many girls have already been inspired by her legacy and how many more will be exposed to her life, her ideas and her accomplishments through this medium,” she said.
Between Hagler’s concept and the final approved design, at least one change was made: Ride’s flight suit gained more patches. Hagler’s original line art included a simplified version of the STS-7 mission patch, the insignia for the 1983 space shuttle Challenger flight on which Ride made history.
The official coin will still depict the starburst from the STS-7 emblem, but will also include the NASA insignia and Ride’s “Sally” name tag.
Medallic artist Phebe Hemphill will use Hagler’s revised art to create the sculpt that will be used to strike the coins. A date for the Sally Ride American Women quarter to enter circulation is still to be announced.
The Secretary of the Treasury also chose the final designs for the 2022 quarters honoring poet Maya Angelou, Cherokee activist Wilma Mankiller, suffragist Nina Otero-Warren and film star Anna May Wong.
The obverse (or head’s side) of each American Women quarter will maintain the likeness of George Washington, but will be different from the portrait used on earlier quarter dollars. The coins will display sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser’s artwork that was originally composed as a candidate to mark Washington’s 200th birthday but was rejected for the 1932 quarter.
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