The Delaware
Quarter Story
       When Congressman Mike Castle proposed to highlight
each state with a quarter in order of their entrance into the
union, those in Delaware were excited to be the first.  The
governor, Tom Carper, decided to let the citizens of Delaware
vote for their favorite design.   On February 2, 1998, he called
on the residents of the state to submit images to the Delaware
State Arts Council.  Seger, an art teacher at Caesar Rodney
High School asked his Art II students to create designs for a
plaster bas relief of the coin, and then decided to show them
how he would do one himself.

        He chose to feature patriot and signer of the Declaration
of Independence, Caesar Rodney, on his stormy ride to
Philadelphia July 1-2, 1776 (A tie in the Delaware delegation
threatened to doom the motion for independence.)

        Being the first state to design its own quarter, artists
didn't know what words would be retained on the reverse side
of the coin (it evidently had not been established yet), so they
used the current quarters as their guide.  Along with the horse
and rider, "United States of America," "1787," "E Pluribus
Unum," and "Delaware," he included a silhoette of the state, a
diamond (Diamond State), a lady bug (state bug -- for the
children), and holly (state tree).

        After reviewing over 300 submissions (forty from Seger's
classes), the council passed along some twenty pieces of
artwork to the U.S. Mint with recommendations.  Each artist
was notified and  signed away rights to his/her work, knowing
that the drawings would possibly be edited and refined if
selected.  The mint was to evaluate the designs, judge them for
their "coinability" and appropriate quality, and return three
finished designs to the state for final approval.

        Upon receipt of the three concepts, the governor
published them and invited phone and email balloting.  One of
the designs included a quill pen and parchment, signifying the
ratification of the Constitution.  The second was a concept few
could place -- a "Lady Liberty" holding the baby Delaware in
one arm with a torch in the other and the sun rising over the
blue rocks.  Seger thought she looked a bit sleazy; not at all
appropriate for a Delaware coin.  The third design, Caesar
Rodney, was similar to Seger's, but it had been reversed and
altered.  Evidently William Cousins, the craftsman at the mint
who worked on the reproduction, wanted to make it his own
with the alterations.  This didn't disappoint Seger as much as
the fact that Caesar Rodney had been reversed, revealing the
left side of his face.  Caesar Rodney never had a portrait done
because he was afflicted with a cancerous growth on his left
cheek.  He often wore a large patch or veil over the area to
avoid repulsing those around him.  He would never have
approved of a profile looking to the viewer's left.  Either Mr.
Cousins didn't know, or he didn't care.  He and Seger had
based their work on the sculpture of Caesar Rodney by James
Kelly (1922) in Rodney Square, Wilmington.

        Several days of voting in June resulted in 235 votes for
Lady Liberty Holding the Baby Delaware, 336 votes for the
quill and parchment, and 948 for Caesar Rodney.  A couple of
days later, to Seger's great surprise, a former student called to
say that the U.S Mint had given him credit for the design on
their web page.  Two pages long at the time, it stated that Eddy
Seger, art and drama teacher at Caesar Rodney High School,
had submitted the winning design concept.  Credit was not
sought -- it was given by the U.S. Mint itself.

        Evidently, credit became an issue later with other state
submissions.  Each state was selecting its images in different
ways; some by popular ballot, some by committee, and others
hired the work out.  The problem of credit became so acute that
the mint asked for guidance from its early contributors.  Seger
receive a questionnaire and several phone calls from the mint
regarding the process.  The mint wanted to eliminate the
controversy by shutting out the local artists all together and just
take "concept" paragraphs as submissions.  They didn't want to
offend the non-artists in the states; the mint artists would put
image to their ideas.  Seger responded forcefully that the
proposal would shut down interest and eliminate a whole body
of talent that could make the coins truly representational,
engaging and wide-ranging.  He cited his own expereince as
evidence that someone in Washington was not necessarily the
best person to represent Delaware's image.  This fell on deaf
ears.  They had, as he feared, already made up their minds at
the mint.  They ignored his recommendations, would not return
his calls nor did they respond to him in any way.  The two web
pages for the Delaware Quarter were reduced to one, the
credited name (Seger's) removed, and the word "winning" was
changed to "selected" (see link).

        So, today the mint still gives credit to an art and drama
teacher from Caesar Rodney High School for submitting the
"selected" design concept.  And, no state artwork has been
accepted by the U.S. Mint for years.

        That's the story.

Seger's Original Design
as struck by the
Seger's Original Design
The Delaware Quarter