Arkansas State Quarter – Designed by our own Ouachita Artist, Dortha Scott
The Arkansas state quarter was the twenty-fifth of fifty state quarters to be issued by the U.S. Mint under its 50 State Quarters® Program. The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the program in 1997 in order to honor each of the fifty states. Five commemorative state quarters were issued each year for a period of ten years in chronological order according to when each state was admitted to the Union.
The Arkansas state quarter, designed by Dortha Scott of Mount Ida (Montgomery County), was issued in October 2003. The design features a diamond flanked by depictions of rice and a mallard duck with a background of trees and a body of water. The release of the Arkansas quarter was the culmination of a design process that began in January 2001 with a statewide competition challenging Arkansans to submit proposed designs for the coin.
Under guidelines provided by the U.S. Mint, Governor Mike Huckabee announced an open statewide competition in which Arkansans were asked to submit their design concepts to the governor’s office by March 31, 2001. The U.S. Mint allowed for the designs to depict natural and manmade state landmarks, landscapes, historic state buildings, outline of the state, state resources, state flowers, and state trees. The rules prohibited the use of state flags and seals, as well as the depiction of any person, living or dead.
A total of 9,320 designs were submitted. After a committee narrowed these designs down to the top 100, those entries were displayed at the State Capitol in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Eleven judges who were selected by Huckabee from across the state reviewed those entries and chose what they believed to be the best twelve. The governor then chose three final designs to submit to the U.S. Mint for review.
The three artists’ designs were chosen as the finalists. These final designs were modified by the U.S. Mint and returned to the governor, who made the final choice. On October 7, 2002, Governor Huckabee announced that Dortha Scott’s design was the winner, and she was present at the official release of the coin on October 28, 2003, at Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro (Pike County).
The final modified design featured a large diamond, which represented Crater of Diamonds State Park as the central image. Stalks of rice, representing Arkansas’s status as the leading rice producer in the United States, were to the left of the diamond, and a mallard duck in flight above a body of water with a forest in the background represents Arkansas’s abundant natural resources and national reputation for outdoor sporting activities.
A total of 457,800,000 Arkansas state quarters were minted. No more will be produced.
Jeff Bailey Arkansas State University
Taken from The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture