Yet Another State Quarter Program

In case you missed, I know I did, the Senate passed H.R. 6184, America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 by unanimous consent. The bill calls for circulating quarters “that are emblematic of a national park or other national site in each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory of the United States.” The bill has been sent to the president for his signature, which is likely.

H.R. 6184 was introduced by Rep. Michael Castle [R-DE] who introduced the “The 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act” [Public Law 105-124]. Rather than honor states, this bill honors national parks or other historical site in each state. And this bill already included the District of Columbia and the insular territories.

I wrote it before: ENOUGH!

While I doubt the president will veto this bill, having another state-related quarter program is just too much. There is real chance for collector fatigue, especially during a stressed economy. I think it is the wrong time for this program.

The program will run from 2010 through 2018, two years longer than the projected duration for the Presidential $1 Coins.

Aloha Number 50

The final coin of the 50 State Quarters® program will be unveiled during a ceremony Honolulu, Hawaii. Hawaii’s coin features the image of King Kamehameha with his outstretched arm over the united islands of Hawaii with the state motto Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ’Āina i ka Pono (The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness).

Kamehameha rose to power in the late 18th century deposing rulers in his way. By 1790, Kamehameha was King of what we know today as the big island of Hawaii. Using arms bought from British and American traders, Kamehameha launched attacks on neighboring islands. After many battles and enduring illness, Kamehameha united the islands in 1810.

In 1893, as Queen Liliuokalani ascended to the throne on the death of her brother, King Kalakaua, she received petitions calling for reforms. Rather, Liliuokalani tried to strengthen her power which made many American and European businessmen nervous. A coup d’état was arranged leaving Queen Liliuokalani imprisoned at Iolani Palace under house arrest.

For the next few years, Hawaii was an independent republic managed by various business interests, including the United States. A counter rebellion was attempted by loyalists to Queen Liliuokalani but was suppressed. However, official policy under President Grover Cleveland was not to support the new government until the government was returned to Liliuokalani. This policy changed when William McKinley succeeded Cleveland. Two years into his administration McKinley singed the Newlands Resolution in 1900 annexing Hawaii a territory of the United States.

On August 21, 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States.

Image courtesy of the US Mint.

A Twist on the Alaska Quarter Release

Monday, August 25, 2008, had a lot of news for the political watchers. After Sen. Ted Kennedy appeared at the Democratic National Convention, Arizona Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain appeared on the Tonight Show. Even First Lady wannabe, Cindy McCain, was in the news by making a humanitarian trip to the war-torn nation of Georgia.

Meanwhile, quietly, without fanfare, the US Mint release the Alaska State Quarter into circulation.

Arizona was the previous State Quarter in the series.

For the previous 48 states, the US Mint has either had a first issuance ceremony on the first day of circulation. This time, the Mint waited until Friday, August 29 to issue its press release and hold its first issuance ceremony.

On Friday, August 29, John McCain announced that he selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his choice for Vice President.

Conspiracy theorists could say that the Mint was made aware of the pick by the McCain campaign and asked to delay their announcement until Friday. The Mint could say that they did not want to overshadow the Democratic National Convention with the announcement of the quarter’s release while accommodating the schedule of the Alaska State Fair, even though the Fair started on August 21. What do you think?

Image courtesy of the US Mint

The Duke To Represent DC

On June 19, the District of Columbia Office of the Secretary announced that the design for the DC quarter will feature Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington. The design will include the official District motto, “Justice For All.”

Ellington beat out designs honoring Frederick Douglass and Benjamin Banneker by a margin of 36-percent to 33-percent for Douglass and 31-percent for Banneker. Ellington was the only native of Washington, DC of the group.

As with most decisions in the nation’s capital, the design of the DC quarter was not without controversy. First, the DC government submitted a narration with the unofficial motto “Taxation Without Representation” to raise the awareness that the District of Columbia is the only national capital that does not have representation its government legislative body. The US Mint rejected the design as “controversial.”

Then it was questioned as to who should appear on the quarter to represent the District of Columbia. While Ellington, Douglass, and Banneker have various ties to the District, none could have been said to have really defined the District. In reality, Ellington’s major accomplishments occurred in New York, Banneker was from Maryland, and while Douglass’s work was important, it had nothing to do with the District itself.

Over the last few months, I have been trying to convince anyone who would listen to me to change the design to honor Walter E. Washington. Washington was the first Mayor of the consolidated District of Columbia (Georgetown had its own mayor at one time) under the DC Home Rule Act of 1973.

As the last appointed commissioner of the DC, Washington faced the rioters following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. refusing to shoot them, as recommended by FBI director J. Edger Hoover. Washington worked with city leaders in their push for home rule.

If the DC activists, including Mayor Adrian Fenty, wanted to make a statement, placing Mayor Washington on the quarter would have given them the opportunity to speak about Home Rule and the problems the city has faced since.

I love Duke’s music, but I think Walter E. Washington would have been a better choice.

DC & Territories Own Program

While checking the US Mint website about the outage of the online catalog, I noticed that the D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarters will be treated as their own program. According to the program fact sheet, the new “program immediately follows the 50 State Quarters® Program, which ends in 2008.”

The D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarter program will feature six coins released in equal intervals during 2009. The Mint has set the order of release as: The District of Columbia, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, The United States Virgin Islands, and The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The design process will be run in the same manner as the Mint has run the 50 State Quarters program.

With the addition of the D.C. & U.S. Territories Quarter program, 2009 will also see the Native American $1 Coins and the redesign of the Lincoln Cent for the Lincoln Bicentennial. Although it is only January 2008, this makes it fun to anticipate 2009!

Sprinting to 2008

Around the end of November or the beginning of December, the numismatic year begins to wind down and we start to look ahead to the new year. As 2007 has entered its final week, December was a buys and interesting month with the voting for the People’s Choice Award for Coin of the Year, to the release of the 10th Anniversary Platinum Eagles, the release of a plethora of Presidential $1 Coin products by the US Mint, and congress doing good and bad with our money. But with a week to go in 2007, everyone is getting ready for 2008.

Looking ahead, this is the last year of the 50 States Quarters for the states—the District of Columbia and the territories will have quarters issued in 2009. Designs have been announced with Arizona and Alaska having the potential to be very good looking coins.

Designs for the four Presidential $1 Coins have been announced. For 2008, the new dollar coins will feature James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. It is apparent that the Mint engravers are using official portraits and other art to base the coin designs. This makes makes the portraits very pleasing and worthy of being on coinage. Along with the Presidential coins, the First Spouse gold coins will include Elizabeth Monroe, Louisa Adams, Andrew Jackson’s Liberty, and Martin Van Buren’s Liberty. Both Jackson and Van Buren were widowed when they served as president.

Speaking of dollar coins, 2008 begins the Native American $1 Coin program. From 2008 through 2016, the reverse of the Sacagawea “Golden” Dollar will be changed yearly commemorate an aspect of history of the native American people. It will be interesting to see how the Mint will handle the design of this coin with the built-in bureaucracy prescribed by law.

The first commemorative for 2008 will be the American Bald Eagle Recovery and National Emblem Commemorative Coin to honor of the recovery of the Bald Eagle species, the 35th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the Bald Eagle’s importance as a national symbol. I cannot help from thinking that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as the national symbol!

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing will release a redesigned $5 Federal Reserve Note with updated security features and a new purple color and a larger “5” on the reverse for the visually impaired. Sometime during 2008, BEP will introduce a redesigned $100 FRN with new security features and color. Because the BEP is not required to have its designs vetted by the Commission of Fine Arts, the new design will remain a secret until the BEP is ready to make their announcement.

Outside of the United States, the Royal Canadian Mint has started to introduce new non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) coins with new designs. The RCM is stressing new colors, designs, and the embedding of gemstones in their coins. Also, the 2010 Winter Olympics continues to be a significant theme of RCM coins.

Across the pond in the United Kingdom, the Royal Mint is advertising their new designs. New designs for legal tender coins are available from the Royal Mint whose sets include three commemorative coins honoring the 60th birthday of Prince Charles, the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I, and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 4th Olympiad held in London.

Even The Perth Mint has issued its 2008 Silver Koala. This $1 NCLT silver coin is the second in the series of the Koala series introduced in 2007. The Perth Mint has also tried new coinage methods that includes moving parts and holograms.

It is going to be a very busy year and exciting year in numismatics.

Fifty Plus 6

Buried in the omnibus budget act that congress passed last Tuesday was a provision to extend the 50 State Quarters Program to include the District of Columbia and the territories of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Since 2000, District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced bills trying to include DC and the territories with the 50 State Quarters Program. For the 110th session, Del. Norton introduced H.R.392, which had passed the House and was sitting in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. The bill has been sitting in committee with no action since last January.

Enter Rep. José Serrano (D-NY). Serrano is a native Puerto Rican representing the south Bronx and is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services whose jurisdiction is the Department of the Treasury. This gave him the power to insert the measure into this bill which he announced with great fanfare.

According to this article at, advocates of DC home rule are in favor of this measure. Now it is time to see how the District handles the design and what they come up with. Considering the dysfunction of the DC government, this should be an interesting exercise.

Monday Morning Fun

Do you have the Monday morning blahs? Do you need a small mental pick-me-up? Then don’t think about work. Go to Mental Floss and test you knowledge of the reverses of some of the 50 State Quarters. They show you 20 quarter reverses and you guess the state from a choice of two. I scored 19 out of 20 after not being able to remember the second coin.


Sac’s New Back

In the final step before becoming a law, congress presented the president with H.R. 2358, Native American $1 Coin Act, for his signature. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Dale Kildee (D-MI 5th), and expected to be signed by the president, the bill calls for the reverse of the Sacagawea Dollar be redesigned every year to commemorate “of Native Americans and the important contributions made by Indian tribes and individual Native Americans to the development of the United States and the history of the United States.” The obverse will continue to have the Sacagawea design.

The bill calls for the denomination to be inscribed as “$1,” making it consistent with the Presidential dollars. The bill also calls for the same edge lettering used by the Presidential dollars to include the date and mint mark along with the inscriptions E Pluribus Unum and In God We Trust. As for the reverse designs, the bill calls for the Mint to consult the Committee on Indian Affairs of the Senate, the Congressional Native American Caucus of the House of Representatives, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the National Congress of American Indians, along with the usual bureaucracy of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee to vet the coin design. With the burden of this bureaucracy, the bill changes the start date to January 1, 2009 if enacted after August 25, 2007.

An interesting clause in the bill says that the design are to be issued “in the chronological order in which the Native Americans lived or the events occurred.” Since there is no specific end date to the program, it appears that the bureaucratic hurdles the Mint is being asked to jump for this program will need the extra year to determine a schedule. And if that was not enough, congress, who is not shy in making its own design suggestions, included the following potential designs in the bill:

  • the creation of Cherokee written language
  • the Iroquois Confederacy
  • Wampanoag Chief Massasoit
  • the “Pueblo Revolt”
  • Olympian Jim Thorpe
  • Ely S. Parker, a general on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant and later head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • code talkers who served the United States Armed Forces during World War I and World War II

In addition to these new reverses, change to the circulating coinage will include new reverses on the Lincoln cent and Presidential Dollars with the reverses honoring, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor. Non-circulating legal tender coins will include the Abraham Lincoln and Louis Braille commemoratives, special 2009 cent with the original copper composition, and the First Spouse gold coins honoring Anna Harrison, Letitia and, Julia Tyler, Sarah Polk, and Margaret Taylor. Finally, if H.R.392 is passed in the Senate (it passed in the House last January), the 50 State Quarters program will be extended to include the District of Columbia and the five territories.

It looks like 2009 could be a great year in numismatics!

Getting Mint Happy

The US Mint turning June into a busy month for collectors by releasing a lot of products. It started on June 4 with the Idaho quarters bags and two-roll sets. Yesterday, the Mint released the John Adams Coin Cover. Today, June 13, the 2007-W uncirculated American Silver Eagle bullion coin is now on sale. Next Tuesday, July 14, the proof and uncirculated First Spouse gold coins honor Martha Washington and Abagail Adams will be on sale. The Mint will also produce 1 5/16-inch bronze medals using the First Spouse designs without a denomination. Finally, on June 21, the Mint will release the Presidential $1 Coin Proof Set.

If you collect everything the Mint produces, the month of June will be expensive. As for me, I am interested in the American Silver Eagles and the Adams Coin Cover. I am not excited about the First Spouse coins. Aside from being expensive, I am not excited about the theme. I am not planning on purchasing the bronze medals.

As for the Presidential $1 Coin Proof Set, I will probably purchase a few sets since first issues tend to resell at a good premium. But the Mint has not said whether the proof, silver proof, and mint sets would contain the Presidential $1 coins. I will hold onto one until the Mint announces what they will do with those annual sets.

Is this too much product for the Mint? If you watch the releases from the Royal Canadian Mint, you may say that the US Mint is quite austere in their offerings. Although I wish the Mint would try to show more class, but their product offerings are regulated by law. Since the law requires the Mint to sell these products, it is difficult to blame them for legally implementing the policies forced upon them.

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