Meet the Artist of the Saratoga Quarter: Barbara Fox

saratoga-lead-updatedThe artist that drew the Saratoga Quarter is Barbara Fox,from the small western New York town of Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County.  The Olean Times Herald recently profiled Fox and her reverse design , illustrating the October 1777 surrender at Saratoga of British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne to Gen. Horatio Gates of the American Continental Army. The design depicts the British general handing his sword to General Gates. This is a copy of the article.  The quarter launch ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, November 17, at Schuylerville High School.

State and Union: U.S. Mint quarter designed by Ellicottville artist

One of artist Barbara Fox’s recent designs turned out to be right on the money — literally.

The Ellicottville-based artist will be recognized later this month when the United States Mint hosts its newest America the Beautiful Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange in Schuylerville. The event marks the official release of the Saratoga National Historical Park quarter, which was designed by Fox.

The quarter illustrates the October 1777 surrender at Saratoga of British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne to Gen. Horatio Gates of the American Continental Army. The design is a representation of the British officer handing his sword to the American general.
The British surrender was a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War. “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne had attempted to secure the Hudson River valley and link up with British forces in New York City, thereby isolating New England from the rest of the American colonies to the south. Meanwhile, the outcome of the campaign convinced the French to openly and actively help the Continentals in their war for independence.
The coin is the 17th coin or medal designed by Fox for the U.S. Mint, as well as her third quarter design. She designed America the Beautiful quarters for Montana’s Glacier National Park in 2011 and Maine’s Acadia National Park in 2012.

Fox visited Saratoga National Historical Park to take photographs and draw inspiration, and conceived the design after watching a movie in the park’s museum which included a recreation of the surrender scene.

“Designing for such a tiny round ‘canvas’ is a complicated assignment,” Fox said, “and I wanted the image to be beautiful and readily understandable. I chose an extreme close-up because it made the hands and the sword the center of attention.”

The design was checked for historical accuracy (down to the embroidery and engraved buttons) by historians at both the Smithsonian Institution and Saratoga National Historical Park. Also included in the design is the inscription “British Surrender 1777.”

The coin was sculpted by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver Renata Gordon.

So how does one become a designer of coin faces for the U.S. Mint?

Fox, a native of California who moved to Little Valley with her husband (a Buffalo-area native) 21 years ago, got involved through the U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program. She explained the program was started when the U.S. Mint’s resident creators could not keep up with the demand for designs of commemorative coins. Independent artists submit designs — often several artists submit competing concepts — which are then judged by juries and committees. The secretary of the Treasury has the final say on the design of any given issue of a U.S. Mint coin.

“It can be a one- to two-year process before an artist even knows if a design has been chosen,” she said, noting she has been involved in the program since 2008.

Her other accepted designs include a 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA commemorative coin, a 2013 5-Star Generals commemorative coin, a 2012 American Eagle 1-ounce platinum reverse, Congressional Gold Medals honoring White Mountain Apache and Lakota Code Talkers for the U.S. military and a presidential gold coin of William Howard Taft.

The Taft coin and the quarters she has designed are the only coins in circulation as legal U.S. tender.

“I have never seen the quarters in circulation,” she said. “It seems like they are pretty limited in their release.”

She said she had to go online to the U.S. Mint’s shopping site to order copies of her coins.

The quarter launch and coin exchange for the Saratoga quarter is set for Nov. 16 at Schuylerville High School; a coin forum in regard to the new quarter release will be at the Saratoga Town Hall in Schuylerville.

The America the Beautiful Quarters Program will release a total of 56 quarters between 2010 and 2021 depicting locations around the U.S. that are notable for their natural beauty or historical significance.

Fox works as a fine artist and illustrator from her Mill Street studio in Ellicottville. Her paintings have been featured in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the U.S., and she teaches her watercolor painting technique in classes and workshops around the country. She is working on new oil paintings for a solo exhibition in 2016.




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