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DC Quarter Design

January 2008

The US Mint initiated the formal design process by requesting that Mayor Adrian Fenty submit design concepts to represent the District of Columbia on the 2009 Quarter Dollar Coin.

February 2008

Mayor Fenty issued a Mayor’s Order (#2008-21) [PDF] on February 1, creating the District of Columbia Quarter Design Advisory Committee to be chaired by the Secretary of the District of Columbia, with three public members, one appointed by the Mayor of the District of Columbia, the Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia and the District’s Delegate to the House of Representatives. The public members are Ayanna Smith (appointed by Mayor Fenty), Natalie Ludaway (appointed by Chairman Gray) and Michael Fauntroy (appointed by Congresswoman Norton).

The Committee’s role was to solicit and collect public input on the District of Columbia Quarter design concept and compile the public input into three narratives describing concepts or themes.

On February 6, the Committee called for public input via email, telephone messages and US Mail. By the close of the public comment period at 5 pm on February 22, the Committee had received more than 340 submissions.  The Committee unanimously agreed that the design of the DC Quarter should focus on the District as a city of people and neighborhoods, not as the nation’s capital. To that end, the decision was made to exclude federal monuments and buildings from the design. The concept suggested most often, and at a rate more than double any other concept, was the slogan “Taxation Without Representation.”  The Mint requested that the Committee send a justification letter [PDF] requesting approval for the “Taxation” slogan, which the Committee did before submitting the narratives.

On February 25, the Mayor submitted the committee’s narratives [PDF] to the US Mint, describing quarters that would depict the stars and bars of the District flag, astronomer and mathematician Benjamin Banneker and world-renowned musician Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, each emblazoned with the inscription “Taxation Without Representation.”

On February 27, the US Mint rejected the District’s inclusion of the inscription “Taxation Without Representation,” deeming it “too controversial” for United States currency. The next day, the DC Quarter Design Committee submitted revised narratives [PDF] for the Mint to consider, including Frederick Douglass and the inscription “Justice For All,” which is the English translation of the District’s motto Justitia Omnibus, as the replacement inscription on all three designs.

March - April 2008 

Based on the narratives, the US Mint produced several original candidate designs for each concept, focusing on “aesthetic beauty, historical accuracy, appropriateness and coinability.” The Committee reviewed the various designs, and selected one design for each concept to go forward. The designs and narratives were edited for historical accuracy, and the Mint made final changes to the designs, which were approved by the Committee.

May 2008

Two public reviews of the three designs were conducted by the US Mint. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission on Fine Arts reviewed the candidate designs and made recommendations to be submitted to the Treasury Secretary with the District’s recommendation.

May - June 2008

On May 22, the Committee finalized the three designs [PDF] to move forward. The following day, the public comment period opened, and we again asked the public to weigh in on the three design concepts. Public comments were accepted via online survey, telephone, or US Mail through June 18. At the end of the survey period, the Duke Ellington design won by a narrow margin. With 6,089 District residents participating, Ellington received 36 percent, Frederick Douglass received 33 percent, and Benjamin Banneker received 31 percent. Mayor Fenty sent a letter to US Mint Director Edmund Moy [PDF] recommending that the Secretary of the Treasury select the Ellington design to represent the District of Columbia on the US Quarter.

December 2008

On December 15, the US Mint issued a press release announcing the new quarter designs for 2009.  In the statement the Mint confirms that the DC quarter will feature an image of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington with the inscription "Justice for All," the District's official motto.

January 26, 2009

The commemorative quarter-dollar coin honoring the District of Columbia goes into circulation.