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California officials, including the “Governator,” Arnold Schwarzenegger, conducted their official State quarter dollar release ceremony Jan. 31. Unlike the public ceremonies conducted for most of the previous State quarter releases, it was a private ceremony open only to accredited journalists and invited participants.
Information about the ceremony as well as the public collector’s forum held Jan. 30 can be found elsewhere in this issue of Coin World.
The focus of this column is the long list of actual people depicted on State quarters. John Muir is depicted on California’s coin. He is depicted admiring the Yosemite Valley, with a California condor flying overhead.
Muir was a leading conservationist and founded the Sierra Club in 1892. Before the State quarters program started, U.S. Treasury officials determined that no head-and-shoulders portraits could be used on the State quarters, so all of the depictions have been full-length views of a person.
The 1999 Delaware coin – the first of the 50 State quarters to be struck – features the colony’s Continental Congress delegate Caesar Rodney on horseback. Rodney, who was born in 1728 and died in 1784, was one of the political leaders most responsible for Delaware’s participation in the Revolutionary War.
As a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776, Rodney voted for independence after riding 80 miles on horseback to cast his vote in time.
He arrived at Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the last minutes of the debate of the resolution on Independence. His vote broke a tie.
The 1999 New Jersey coin depicts Gen. George Washington, part of a design based on Emmanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.
The painting shows Washington and his troops in a boat on their way to attack the British at Trenton, N.J.
The 2001 North Carolina coin features Orville and Wilbur Wright, based on a famous photograph taken the moment their Wright Flyer aircraft took to the skies on Dec. 17, 1903. Wilbur is shown standing on the ground. Orville is at the controls of the plane. North Carolina was the site of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight, along the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk.
The 2003 Alabama quarter features a pose of Helen Keller seated in a chair with an open book on her lap. Keller’s name is inscribed in English and Braille to the right of the portrait with SPIRIT OF COURAGE on a ribbon below the chair. The design is bordered on the right by a branch of camellias, Alabama’s state flower, and on the left by a branch of needles and cones from the southern longleaf pine. Keller was born June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Ala.
Keller is the seventh actual woman depicted on a U.S. coin. The other six women are: Spain’s Queen Isabella, Eleanor Dare (with infant daughter Virginia), Susan B. Anthony, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Dolley Madison and Sacagawea.
Abraham Lincoln as a young man is depicted on the 2003 Illinois coin. The design features an image of a young Lincoln based on a sculpture by Avard Fairbanks titled The Resolute Lincoln. The image of Lincoln is superimposed over an outline of the state. In the background to the left of the Lincoln image is a stylized view of a farm setting and to the right of Lincoln is the Chicago skyline. Two inscriptions flank the main Lincoln design. One is the state slogan, LAND OF LINCOLN. The other inscription is 21ST STATE/CENTURY. To highlight the 21st theme, 21 stars frame the design.