By Eva Potter
As you scrounge for change to pay a toll or to plug the parking meter, do you actually look at the coins? I dare say most of us don’t. But that may change soon, especially if you want to add Barbara Fox’s 2015 New York State Parks quarter to your collection.
Fox, a resident of Maples, N.Y., has been designing circulating and collectible coins for the U.S. Mint for the past seven years, and the newest coin in her collection depicts a historic event at Saratoga National Historical Park on the obverse (heads) side. The park was the site of the Battle of Saratoga, where Americans first defeated British forces in the Revolutionary War.
The image Fox designed represents the moment when General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to General Horatio Gates with an inscription that reads: “British Surrender 1777.”
“I was very enthusiastic about doing the design for New York, so I actually went to Saratoga where I was able to take my own photographs to work from,” said Fox.
The coin will be released Nov. 1, 2015. It will be the 30th strike in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, which comprises 56 quarters issued in 11 years at a rate of five per year. You can view this quarter at www.parkquarters.com.
As a United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer, Fox has designed 8–10 coins annually. The growing list includes Montana’s Glacier National Park state quarter, several coins for the First Spouse series honoring American First Ladies, the USA Centennial Silver Dollar celebrating 100 years of the Girl Scouts, as well as a Congressional Gold Medal Memorializing the 1963 Birmingham Bombing. Fox has had 18 designs accepted and struck.
How does the process work? In August 2013, Fox, along with a few other artists, was assigned this quarter design. She was given three weeks to complete her design and submitted three versions. It was close to a year before she found out her design made it through two committee reviews and final approval by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, but she was sworn to secrecy until it was publicly announced.
Fox’s design parameters included the park’s request that the design reflect the historical significance of the exchange of the sword, in addition to capturing the real feel of this historic location.
“The superintendent of Saratoga National Historic Park is a civil war enactor and was adamant that I use the actual uniforms that these generals wore, down to the emblem on the buttons,” said Fox. “Fortunately, I work on an 8-inch round template, so it isn’t as bad as it seems. They love to see as much detail as possible.”
Fox was provided a template with the words already in place. First, she created pencil drawings, which were scanned into Photoshop®. She then moved the elements around to fine-tune the image.
As a kid, Fox wanted to become a veterinarian, but changed her major to art in college. After graduating, she worked as a commercial artist in graphic design and illustration in the San Francisco area. It wasn’t until she moved to the Ellicottville area more than 20 years ago that she began doing more fine art painting, mostly for herself.
Regionally, she is known for her vibrant watercolor and oil paintings capturing still life, landscapes and floral subjects. She has received numerous awards, has been featured in galleries and museums throughout the U.S., and has had her work published in three leading art magazines.
You can visit with Fox and see her work at Mill Street Studio and Gallery, at 42 Mill St. in Ellicottville, on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Or make an appointment by calling (716) 699-4145 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see more of her work at www.bfoxfineart.com.