50 new quarters to honor U.S. states Five designs to be minted annually for next decade

Md. coin to be in 2nd year

November 17, 1997|By NEWSDAY

WASHINGTON -- There's a new quarter in your future. Actually 50 new quarters honoring each state over the next decade.

Under the plan, next year the Treasury Department will solicit the first major redesign of the quarter since the Depression, replacing the spread-winged eagle that, except for a bicentennial commemorative coin, has graced the coin continually since 1932.

Five new coins will be minted each year for the next decade, carrying on the back of the coin a symbol of each state in the order they were admitted to the union. Though the designs are the responsibility of each state's governor, they must be approved by a Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Commission, the Fine Arts Commission and the Treasury secretary.

When a Chicago newspaper writer speculated that pro basketball star Michael Jordan should become Illinois' symbol, indignant members of Congress insisted on the integrity of the quarter and the tradition of honoring George Washington. They declared that no bust of any individual other than the father of the country should be pictured.

Coin dealers and collectors are ecstatic. "Money is history you can hold in your hands," said Chicago coin dealer Donn Pearlman of the Professional Numismatics Guild, "but the history of U.S. circulating coinage has been absolutely stagnant for decades. In 50 years, there have been more than 2,000 postage stamp designs, but in those same 50 years, there have been only nine new coin designs put into circulation."

Rep. Michael N. Castle, a Delaware Republican, a one-time coin collector and chairman of a House Banking and Financial Services subcommittee, shares credit for the plan with Senate Banking Committee Chairman Alfonse M. D'Amato, a New York Republican, and Rep. Floyd H. Flake, a New York Democrat. But Castle set the coins' production schedule -- in the order that the states ratified the Constitution -- that put his home state first on the list.

Maryland was seventh to ratify the Constitution, so its coin would appear in the second year.

The front of the coin won't be changed, bearing the bust of Washington designed in 1932 by New York sculptor John Flannagan. Before, the quarter featured five variations of Liberty: standing, seated, capped and draped.

Pub Date: 11/17/97

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