The next “America The Beautiful Quarter” in the popular United States Mint coin series celebrates the National Park of American Samoa and the threatened Samoan Fruit Bat.
A fruit bat? On my new 2020 quarter? It's more likely than you think, thanks to the United States Mint and its long-running campaign to beautify the humble Washington Quarter. The “America the Beautiful Quarters Program” debuted in April of 2010 with Arkansas' Hot Springs National Park quarter, one of five America The Beautiful quarters released that year with a new quintet issued each year following.
A total of 56 different quarters will be issued before the program ends but it's safe to say the 51st quarter in the series could be the most distinctive of them all. Scheduled for release in rolls and/or in bags on February 3rd of 2020 (Feb 13th in American Samoa), the coins feature a mother Samoan Fruit Bat ("pe'a") hanging upside-down in a tree, lovingly clutching her pup. Yep, we'll say it: two fruit bats, one coin!
“Why fruit bats?”, you may ask... well, why not? It's safe to say a bat of ANY species has never graced the face of an American coin meant for circulation so yeah, it's about time one (or in this case, two) did.
All kidding aside, the National Park of American Samoa is the only national park where these threatened creatures reside, and featuring the species on a coin meant for widespread circulation should help raise awareness of its precarious status.
The coin's striking reverse can be credited to sculptor-engraver Phebe Hemphill, and designer Richard Masters of the Artistic Infusion Program. Both the Philadelphia and Denver mints have been charged with minting the circulation quarters, which will bear the customary “P” and “D” mint marks, respectively. The San Francisco Mint will be applying its signature "S" mint mark to clad proof coins and silver coins.
Collectors who may or may not be into fruit bats will have another option when it comes to this strikingly beautiful celebration of the endangered Samoan Fruit Bat: the National Park of American Samoa 2020 Uncirculated Five Ounce Silver Coin, scheduled for release on February 6th. Unlike the circulation strike, you'll have to fork over $178.25 to the Mint. That's $178 bucks... plus a quarter. (images via United States Mint and Collector Coins)