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During the early years of the 50 State Quarters program, the US Mint frequently modified artists' original coin designs, much to the consternation of local artists and members of the public. The controversy reached its peak following the Mint's major redesign of the Missouri state quarter. At left is the original design, created by Missouri artist Paul Jackson. At right is the Missouri quarter as produced by the Mint. (The image at left comes from a coin struck for collectors by a private mint.)

Paul Jackson's Design Missouri State Quarter

The US Mint objected to the design on the grounds that the image is historically inaccurate, would compete with a Mint-issued commemorative silver dollar, and is too detailed to be minted.

Jackson's supporters point out that the modified design is less accurate: it shows a top hat and a large type of canoe -- neither of which would have been used on the expedition. The Mint's design also distorts the dimensions of the Gateway Arch. As for the charge that the design conflicts with a commemorative coin, the Wright Brothers' aircraft appeared on two state quarters not long before appearing on a commemorative coin, with no ill effects. The very existence of the privately-minted coin in the photograph at left disproves the claim that the design is too detailed to be minted. Jackson and his supporters argue that the changes were in fact made so that Mint engravers could steal the credit for the final design for themselves.

Partly as a result of this controversy, the Mint modified its design selection procedures in 2003 -- under the new policy, states could only submit written descriptions, not drawings of what local artists actually envisioned.