Jean-Antoine Houdon

According to the George Washington's Mount Vernon Facebook page, On August 15, 1774, Colonel Washington purchases a “large Marble Mortar,” which would later be used by artist Jean-Antoine Houdon to prepare plaster for the cast he made of Washington’s head. Click here to read a short article about Jean-Antoine Houdon

A design specification for the obverse of the Washington  commemorative required a portrait of Washington which was to be based on a clay bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon.

Per The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of the Washington and State Quarters, the design competition guidelines specified that the obverse of the coin (under the original competition the coin was going to be a half dollar) was to "bear a head of Washington based on the Houdon bust at Mount Vernon."

The Washington quarter had its beginnings steeped in drama and debate. Originally requested in a proposal by the Treasury Department as a commemorative half dollar design to celebrate the bicentennial of George Washington's birth, the decision by then, Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon, to use the Washington quarter design we know today, was hotly contested by the selection committee which was co-sponsored by The Department of the Treasury, the national Commission of Fine Arts and the Washington Bicentennial Commission.

Did You Know?

1932 D reverse 1The reverse hub of the 1932 quarter was never used again. Click here to read about this and more!