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John Flanagan owes his numismatic fame less to artistic merit than to the fact that he was a man in the man's world of the early 20th century. In 1931, the Treasury Department decided to follow in the footsteps of the Lincoln cent and issue a circulating coin honoring the bicentennial of President George Washington's birth. After an open competition that the Treasury conducted in association with the Washington Bicentennial Commission and the Commission of Fine Arts, judges chose Laura Gardin Fraser's masterful design. Even though art critics had admired Fraser's work since the introduction of the Oregon Trail commemorative half dollar in 1926, Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon's male chauvinism prejudiced the design selection process from the start. His choice, the design by John Flanagan, was confirmed as the winner and upheld even after Ogden L. Mills succeeded to the post of Treasury Secretary in early 1932. While Fraser's superior design remains unknown to all but a handful of numismatic scholars, Flanagan's obviously inferior workmanship can still be admired (albeit in slightly modified form) on the quarters of today.
The first P-mint issue in this long-lived series, the 1932 has always had a special place in the hearts of date and type collectors alike.
Description and Analysis courtesy of Heritage Auctions and may not be republished without written permission.
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