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The native Americans who sought shelter there (from Apache raiders, from disease, and from drought) were compelled to embrace, in the words of the National Park Service, “a new god and a new king.” They had to convert to Christianity and swear loyalty to the Spanish monarch.

CCAC member Tom Uram praised the artists who worked on this portfolio, commending them for well-thought-out designs.

Then, several months later, the Mint mails each CCAC member a package of design portfolios—usually 10 to 20 proposals, by several artists, for each coin.

We get these packages a few weeks before our scheduled design-review meeting, which allows us time to study and critique each proposal, weighing its artistry, its appropriateness for the subject, its coinability, and other factors.

We were joined by phone in our discussion by Lauren Gurniewicz, the missions’ chief of interpretation.

She told us the National Park Service’s choice from the selection of 15 designs was TX-03A, calling it “fantastic” and saying “it represents what we’re about.” CCAC members don’t arrive in Washington with a blank slate for these America the Beautiful coin-design reviews.

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This park is a network of four Catholic missions (not including the famous Alamo).

The Ellis Island coin “depicts an immigrant family approaching Ellis Island with a mixture of hope and uncertainty.

The hospital building can be seen in the background.” This is a design with important significance to many American families whose ancestors traveled to a new life through Ellis Island. The reason I was in Washington in September was to attend the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee’s review of upcoming coin and medal proposals, including those of the America the Beautiful quarter program.

He mentioned that he’s a member of the 1715 Fleet Society (a group that promotes public awareness and scholarly study of all facets of the hurricane destruction of Spain’s 1715 treasure fleet off Florida’s coast).

As such, he couldn’t help but be attracted to the coin-inspired designs, and he called out TX-03B, with the cross free-floating, as his favorite.

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