U.S. Mint Reveals First Five ‘America the Beautiful’ Quarters

WASHINGTON, DC, March 24, 2010 (ENS) – Designs for the first five “America the Beautiful” quarters were unveiled today, featuring America’s four oldest national parks – Hot Springs, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon – and Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon.

“Today we celebrate the breathtaking landscapes and natural heritage of America the Beautiful, by commemorating our country’s most treasured places on our currency,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who joined U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios and U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy in a ceremony today at the Newseum in Washington.

“When people come across one of these quarters, they will see the word ‘Liberty’ on one side and a national park, refuge, or forest on the other. They will know that Americans cherish these things dearly and desire to share both the freedom and the beauty of our land with all who likewise cherish them,” said Salazar.

Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Harris Sherman and Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, who introduced the legislation authorizing the quarters, also were in attendance.

The five quarters unveiled today are the first of 56 that will be issued between 2010 and 2021. They will include 48 National Park sites, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife sites, and six U.S. Forest Service sites.

“Through America the Beautiful Quarters coins, we will be transported to national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, part of a vast public land legacy belonging to all Americans – natural and cultural treasures protected for our recreation, relaxation, education, inspiration and transformation,” Moy said.

The design for the first quarter in the America the Beautiful series (Image courtesy U.S. Mint)

“This program holds real value in helping Americans of all ages learn more about U.S. history, landmarks and culture through highlighting 56 national parks and sites throughout our country and territories in a series of quarters that will live on for generations,” said Rios.

The coins will be issued sequentially in the order in which the featured location was first placed under the care of the federal government.

Hot Springs National Park was established as Hot Springs Reservation in 1832 and later became a national park. Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, followed by Yosemite in 1890 and the Grand Canyon in 1893.

The first quarter in the series, which honors Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, will be released into circulation on April 19, with an official launch ceremony in Hot Springs on April 20.

It will be followed by quarters honoring Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming (June); Yosemite National Park in California (July); Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona (September); and Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon (November).

The image on the tails side of the Hot Springs National Park quarter depicts the Hot Springs National Park headquarters building with a fountain in the foreground. The headquarters was built in the Spanish colonial revival style and completed in 1936. The National Park Service emblem is featured to the right of the door. Inscriptions are HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The Yellowstone National Park quarter features the Old Faithful geyser with a bull bison in the foreground. Inscriptions are YELLOWSTONE, WYOMING, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The Yosemite National Park quarter depicts the iconic El Capitan, which rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor and is the largest monolith of granite in the world. Inscriptions are YOSEMITE, CALIFORNIA, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The Grand Canyon National Park quarter features a view of the granaries used in 500 A.D. above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon near the Colorado River. Marble Canyon is the northernmost section of the Grand Canyon. Inscriptions are GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

The Mount Hood National Forest quarter depicts a view of Mount Hood with Lost Lake in the foreground. Inscriptions are MOUNT HOOD, OREGON, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.

Each coin in the series features the same design on the heads side with the 1932 portrait of the first U.S. President George Washington by John Flanagan. Inscriptions are UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and QUARTER DOLLAR.

Congress authorized the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 to celebrate the nation’s legacy of conservation. The legislation recalls noteworthy steps in the nation’s preservation movement and quotes Theodore Roosevelt who said that nothing short of defending this country in wartime “compares in importance with the great central task of leaving this land even a better land for our descendents than it is for us.”

Salazar and the United States Mint selected the places based on recommendations from the governor or chief executive of each jurisdiction. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner approved the list on August 25, 2009.

In addition to the coins for circulation, the Mint will produce collectable items including proof sets, silver proof sets, a five ounce silver bullion coin, coin bags, and coin rolls for each quarter.

Now Secretary Salazar is asking Congress to pass legislation authorizing the U.S. Mint to issue coins commemorating the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.

“Commemorative coins would bring national and international visibility to the history and the mission of the Service as a whole as well as its many parks and programs during the bureau’s centennial year,” Salazar wrote in a March 16 letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that accompanied a draft bill.

Under the proposed legislation, sales of the coins would raise funds for the National Park Foundation, a congressionally chartered organization that works to strengthen the connection between the American people and national parks by raising private funds, making strategic grants, creating partnerships and increasing public awareness.

The legislation would authorize the issuance of 100,000 $5 gold coins, 500,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins.

As collectors’ items, coins typically sell for far more than their face value. For example, gold $5 coins that were minted for Jamestown’s 400th anniversary in 2007 sold for over $200 each, while silver $1 coins sold for about $37 a piece.

The National Park Foundation, as the designated recipient of surcharges, would receive $35 for each gold coin, $10 for each silver coin, and $5 for each half-dollar coin sold.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.